The Oasis pedestrian traffic a ‘fatality waiting to happen,’ group warns

Customers using crosswalk to get to the Oasis Texas complex. December 16, 2016 (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)
Customers using crosswalk to get to the Oasis Texas complex. December 16, 2016 (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Comanche Trail Community Association calls it “a fatality waiting to happen,” referring to growing pedestrian safety concerns surrounding The Oasis. Customers parking across the street have to cross Comanche Trail to get to the popular restaurant and shops overlooking Lake Travis.

Carolyn Wilsford, a Comanche Trail Community Association board member, says more needs to be done, having witnessed several “close calls.”

“More lighting. Speed bumps. And changing the speed limit would be wonderful,” Wilsford said.

This summer, the neighborhood association met with Travis County’s Transportation and Natural Resources department. In a letter addressed to Andrew Rice, a representative of the Oasis, Texas property, Engineering Division Manger David Greear wrote, “Some very obvious improvements were identified that could improve the safety of pedestrians and vehicles accessing your property as well as reduce some of your liability. Some of the improvements can be accomplished by Travis County, but other identified improvements would be your responsibility.”

Those recommended improvements include:

  • Installing fencing or landscaping to prevent/deter pedestrians from crossing Comanche Trail on the west side of the intersection and cutting across where there are no sidewalks
  • Trimming the canopy of the trees in the median of Comanche Trail up to 7-feet high.
    • At the time of this recommendation in July, the county wrote, “In its current state, the visibility is completely blocked for vehicles travelling eastbound on Comanche Trail approaching the sidewalk.”
  • Overhead lighting for the existing crosswalk
  • Construct covered landing structures to give a clear message to pedestrians that this is the location to cross

Greear told KXAN within a month of writing the July letter, the county had done what it could on its end by improving warning signage and the visibility of the marked crosswalks. Greear said he only heard back from Oasis, Texas confirming they received the letter, but never a follow up of what action was taken.

KXAN got in contact with Andrew Rice, a representative of the property owner of Oasis, Texas. Rice expressed that pedestrian safety is of the utmost concern. After being contacted by members of the community with concerns, Oasis, Texas says it repainted the faded crosswalk, put up a barrier to encourage people to use the crosswalk, and added additional “please use crosswalk” signs on both sides of the street. Trees were also trimmed. Rice also said early next year it plans to add vegetation to act as a barrier, further encouraging customers to use the crosswalk.

Beau Theriot, the owner of the Oasis restaurant, which is separate from Oasis, Texas, the shopping complex that surrounds the restaurant, told KXAN, “It bothers me a lot that we can’t’ get a few little things done to try to make it all safer for anyone who comes out here.”

He explained because of growing congestion at the intersection of FM 2222 and FM 620, more people have been using Comanche Trail as cut-through, going too fast in an area that sees many pedestrians during certain times of the day and year.

“They may be going 35, 45 miles an hour and they don’t realize that there’s a crosswalk here,” Theriot said.”There was one lady with a stroller who probably could have been hit if she hadn’t reacted so fast.”

KXAN asked Travis County officials what it would take to get speed bumps on Comanche Trail. Right now, the option doesn’t exist. That’s because the county does not have a policy in place that would allow it to add traffic calming devices. County commissioners shot down the idea several years ago.