Residents take over planning for safety improvements on Anderson Mill Road

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Balcones Greenes resident Diane Owens said traffic backs up heavily on Anderson Mill Road at Olson and Swan drives because a lack of a turn lane does not allow residents to easily enter or exit side streets.

Balcones Greenes resident Diane Owens said traffic backs up heavily on Anderson Mill Road at Olson and Swan drives because a lack of a turn lane does not allow residents to easily enter or exit side streets. (via Courtesy Diane Owens)

The city of Austin has seven Corridor Improvement Programs for updating major roadways, but none of which are located west of MoPac or in Northwest Austin.

That is why the Northwest Austin Coalition, which represents neighborhoods west of MoPac and north of RM 2222, wants to jump-start planning efforts for studying improvements to Anderson Mill Road between RM 620 and US 183, organizer Jimmy Flannigan said. NWAC chose Anderson Mill Road because it is the only major roadway in Northwest Austin not managed by the Texas Department of Transportation.

“This is about starting off what we need to be doing, what other parts of town have been doing for years and years and years,” Flannigan said during a June 29 NWAC meeting. “It’s got to be broad, and we need to make sure every neighborhood has a say.”

The study will focus on safety improvements because those are more likely to garner funding, Flannigan said. He brought a map and Post-It notes to the June 29 NWAC meeting for attendees to write what problems and concerns they have along Anderson Mill Road. Flannigan will import those comments into a Google map and share it with Northwest Austin residents, who are encouraged to add their own input.

He also spoke with the Austin Transportation Department about having residents taking over the planning process and said it will not be a wasted effort. Flannigan said he will need a traffic engineer to donate time to the planning process to help evaluate solutions and recommendations for roadway improvements. Anderson Mill Road will be the first street the group studies, and if the process is successful it could open opportunity to study other roadways, such as Spicewood Springs or Duval roads, according to Flannigan.

“It’s critical for people to spread information to their neighborhoods and friends to provide their own input,” he said. “We want to build community in District 6 to address other problems.”

About 1.3 miles of Anderson Mill from RM 620 to Spicewood Parkway has been improved with a center turn lane, bike lanes, medians and sidewalks. The other mile from Spicewood Parkway to US 183 has not been improved. The road lies on the county line between Travis and Williamson counties.

“It’s like it’s been left out. … That section has been forgotten about,” said Phil Denney, president of the Anderson Mill Neighborhood Association.

He seeks to improve various roadway safety concerns, such as speeding, inadequate lighting, sharp curves and poor visibility, which results in vehicles crashing into walls between the road and homes, he said.

Diane Owens, a resident in the Balcones Greenes neighborhood off Swan Drive and a member of the Anderson Mill Road Safety Group, said traffic backs up at Olson Drive during peak hours. Because a turn lane does not exist, residents are unable to get in or out of their neighborhoods safely.

“We need to make [Anderson Mill Road] safe for pedestrians, traffic and bikes so we can coexist together and not kill each other,” Owens said.

UPDATE: Comments from the June 29 meeting have been incorporated into a map for the community to view and add input. Visit the map here.

During the June 29 Northwest Austin Coalition meeting residents wrote the problems they see on Anderson Mill Road on Post-It notes. The comments will be incorporated into a Google map and shared with the community to add further feedback.

During the June 29 Northwest Austin Coalition meeting residents wrote the problems they see on Anderson Mill Road on Post-It notes. The comments will be incorporated into a Google map and shared with the community to add further feedback. (via Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)

Number of 911 crash calls on Anderson Mill Road

Balcones Greenes resident Diane Owens requested data on the number of accidents on Anderson Mill Road. The data show the number of accidents on the unimproved portion of the roadway between US 183 and Spicewood Parkway are double those on the improved portion from Spicewood Parkway to RM 620. Most of these accidents are near entrances to neighborhoods because there only three traffic lights—at Spicewood Parkway, at Olson Drive and into Bethany United Methodist Church and Unity Church of the Hills.

 

US 183 to Spicewood Pkwy.

2012: 106

2013: 100

2014: 82

2015*: 28

Total: 316

Spicewood Pkwy. to RM 620

2012: 67

2013: 41

2014: 30

2015*: 12

Total: 150

*through April 4, 2015

Source: Austin Police Department

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Amy Denney
Amy has been reporting in community journalism since 2007. She worked in the Chicago suburbs for three years before migrating south and joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2010. Amy has been editor of the Northwest Austin publication since August 2012 and she is also the transportation beat reporter for the Austin area.
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