Austin has a new guide for building future roads

Safety improvements finished at Rundberg and Lamar (City of Austin photo)
Safety improvements finished at Rundberg and Lamar (City of Austin photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s growth in recent years is making the city of Austin take a look at the ways it can adapt to future development. The city has updated their Street Design Guide for the first time in about a decade. The updated guide will work with the city’s new Austin Strategic Mobility Plan.

The purpose of the Austin Street Design Guide is to help engineers apply the same approach when designing new streets or modifying current roads, as the city continues to expand—it’s basically a handbook for Austin roads.

“Our current design criteria is outdated,” said Lianne Miller with the Austin Transportation Department. “So, when a designer looks to design a street, they may want to use more modern guidance. That’s what this design guide will provide for them.”

The guide may also be useful for street design in constrained right-of-ways. The guide, which will be piloted throughout 2017, was developed by the Austin Transportation Department in coordination with other city departments and Capital Metro. City staff, developers and neighborhood organizations are encouraged to use the guide as they work on street design as it may come up in development applications throughout the year.

The previous street design guide focused on a car-centric community, now designers are making sure bike and pedestrian paths play a bigger role in the process.

“Streets are vibrant places and it’s important that we get them right,” said Miller.

Roads like Lamar Boulevard can be a challenge for engineers. It looks different in various parts of the city. It’s about developing the best design but the most consistent that takes future transportation modes into consideration.

The new approach to multi-modal street design presented will be consistent with city policies and considers the following key ingredients: community context, street level, right-of-way, mode specific plans, design considerations, and number of lanes. Other factors considered, but are not in the guide, include utility placement/assignments, emergency response consideration, and placemaking.

 

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