Austin kicks off ‘pop in meetings’ on Airport Boulevard

Safety improvements being made to Airport Boulevard at US 183. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
Safety improvements being made to Airport Boulevard at US 183. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)

AUSTIN (KXAN)– Informational booths are popping up in Austin, meant to serve as sites for “pop-in meetings” to let people know more about roadways slated for improvements.

The city of Austin kicked off the first of its series of meetings along Airport Boulevard. The other meetings will continue through mid-October on other roads eligible for funding as part of the 2016 Mobility Bond Corridor Program and will inform community members about recommended changes.

“I think Airport Boulevard could be kept more clean and I think there could be a recognition that there is a lot more pedestrian traffic than there used to be,” says Kate Robinson-Howell, who drives the road daily with her two children.

David McCullough regularly walks the road in east Austin between 12th Street and Oak Springs Drive. He feels overgrown weeds on the sidewalks are an issue, and the pedestrian walkways need to be better maintained.

“Sidewalks are all crooked,” he says.

A common theme that emerged during previous public meetings was “the need for adequate movement of additional automobile traffic, but not in a way that would make pedestrian and bicycle travel unattractive to the average user.” Other Austinites feel the same as Kate and David that key issues on the road are the lack of safe and convenient bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

City officials say solutions require a step-by-step proces  with short, medium and long-term recommendations for the road.

Just north of the intersection at Airport Boulevard and Oak Springs Drive is one of several locations city staff is recommending that a pedestrian hybrid beacons be installed. Adding the beacons, adjusting signal timing and changing turn lanes on the road are considered short-term.

Below is a list of proposed improvements, just in Airport Boulevard:

  • Airport at Highland Mall Entry Plaza – Add a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon
  • Airport at Koenig – Removal of the free right turns at all legs of the intersection to slow traffic in the turns. This will require coordination with TxDOT
  •  Airport at 55th – Add a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon
  •  Airport at 53 ½ – Modify signal timing to accommodate traffic patterns
  •  Airport at 46th – Add a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon or full signal
  •  Airport at 45th – Implement indirect-left treatment, with left turning restrictions implemented at 45th
  •  Airport at Wilshire/Aldrich – Add a second southbound left turn lane on Airport to eastbound Aldrich and second westbound left turn lane on Aldrich to southbound Airport
  •  Airport at 40th – Add a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon
  •  Airport at Zach Scott – Add a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon
  •  Airport at Manor Road – Add an eastbound right turn bay and modify signal timing to accommodate protected permitted left turn movements
  •  Airport at MLK – Realign northbound and southbound left turn bays; modify signal timing to allow protected permitted left turn movements.
  •  Airport at 12th – Modify signal timing to allow protected permitted left turns
  •  Airport at Location North of Oak Springs Drive – Add a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon
  •  Airport at Springdale Road – Modify intersection to accommodate eastbound shared left and dual-through with a right turn bay, and westbound shared-left and dual through with a shared right and dedicated right. Modify signal timing to match
  • Coordination with TxDOT regarding the pavement markings necessary to denote the shoulder as a bicycle facility from MLK to Levander Loop.
  • Sidewalks: There is a corridor-wide need for additional sidewalk improvements.

Medium and long-term projects will require significant amounts of coordination, planning, design and ultimately funding in order to become a reality within the corridor. These improvements will also require drainage and stormwater improvements, which will add to the project cost, schedule and complexity. Redevelopment efforts may create the opportunity to implement regional detention facilities that serve both public and private needs.

“We make multiple improvements to connections with transit, bikeways, roads for vehicles, sidewalks but we do them in one complete street multi modal segment,” says MIke Trimble with the City of Austin.

City Council will review the recommended improvements starting early next year. Find pop-up meetings for other projects here. 

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