Austin working to slow down drivers cutting through neighborhoods

FILE - Austin intersection (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Austin intersection (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Sonia Tovar’s daily commute takes her from the east side of town to central Austin. Like many Austinites when traffic is a mess, she gets creative with her commute in an attempt to avoid delays, often driving through local neighborhoods. “I’ll turn WAZE on — it’ll be like which route do you want to take?”

It’s helpful if you’re dodging the backup, but Jessica Eley says “not so much,” especially if your neighborhood road is someone’s speedy secret weapon.

Eley lives along Goodwin Avenue which is often used as a route around traffic on Airport Boulevard. “The trucks come speeding down this street because at Oak Springs the lights gets backed up and so everyone uses this as a cut thru,” says Eley. “All the parked cars have had accidents, there was a really bad one and even the police came and were like ‘ya’ll need speed humps.'”

Graduate engineer with the Austin Transportation Department, Mario Porras, says the city is aware the issue has become rampant around town but cutting off neighborhood connectivity and access to public roads is not an option.

“What we really want to do is to make sure the vehicles utilizing the right of way are doing so in a safe and adequate fashion,” explains Porras.

Porras says monitoring “cut through” traffic is difficult but what they can do is make sure drivers are forced to slow down through neighborhoods, by installing more speed bumps.

“Cut-through mitigation is more involved. It would require taking license plate information and seeing where all the vehicles are going. That takes up a lot of resources,” says Porras. “We can do anything from dynamic speed display devices, medians, additional striping, neighborhood involvement. But the things that works the best right now are those speed cushions.”

It may not keep your traffic escape a secret, but it’ll slow down those joining you.

“Safety is definitely a priority,” says Tovar. “Sometimes I’m thinking about it when I’m driving, there’s no way this whole row of cars lives down here. We’re all trying to do the same thing.”

More than 90 streets have the funds and are currently in the design phase for speed mitigation.

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