Parents’ push for school zone on FM 969 has been heard

FM 969 in East Austin (KXAN Photo)
FM 969 in East Austin (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After numerous crashes and complaints, the Texas Department of Transportation has tentatively approved creating a special school zone for traffic along Farm to Market 969 near Decker Lane in east Austin.

The decision to create the special school zone comes after parents raised concerns about the dangers they encounter when they drop their children off at Austin Discovery School and KIPP Austin. Back in June, parents, teachers and community members held their own traffic experiment to document the traffic along the road when students are present. They sent all the data they collected to TxDOT in an effort for the agency to implement changes—and it appears it worked.

Earlier in the year, TxDOT said they couldn’t put a school zone in the area because children weren’t actually crossing the road, therefore, the area does not meet school zone criteria. But because there is heavy school commuter traffic, TxDOT reconsidered the special school zone.

Car Accident near Austin Discovery School on FM 969. Nov. 11, 2016 (Courtesy/ Sheri Guess)
Car Accident near Austin Discovery School on FM 969. Nov. 11, 2016
(Courtesy/ Sheri Guess)

“Like you, we take safety extremely seriously here at TxDOT,” Terry McCoy, Austin District Engineer said in a press release. “We understand there are some safety concerns in this area with drivers pulling into and out of schools. Because of this, we are taking this unusual step to provide additional protection for all motorists passing through this busy stretch of highway.”

A few weeks ago, an Austin Discovery School teacher was injured after his car was hit while he was turning onto FM 969 from the school. A similar crash happened to a parent who was making the same exit the teacher made.

The proposal must still be approved by the Texas Transportation Commission before it can be implemented. A vote could be taken in the next month or two.

Along with the special school zone, TxDOT is still working on a project to widen FM 969. The project also includes adding a center turn lane and shoulders.

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