Proposed Jollyville Road concept angers Northwest Austin residents

Jollyville Road in Northwest Austin currently has five total traffic lanes.

Jollyville Road in Northwest Austin currently has five total traffic lanes.

Jollyville Road A concept shows how Jollyville Road could look to provide better pedestrian and bicycle access.[/caption]

For an update on what happened at the Feb. 15 meeting, click here.

Updated Feb. 15, 9:45 a.m.

A proposal that calls for removing two travel lanes on Jollyville Road in favor of more bicycle and pedestrian facilities has angered area residents who say they rely on the roadway to access homes, businesses and medical facilities.

The proposal is part of a Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization study of US 183 to analyze the corridor and adjacent roads for additional bicycle and pedestrian opportunities. Concepts will be included in the agency’s Regional Active Transportation Plan as a case study for implementing other forms of transportation in areas similar to US 183.

CAMPO also launched the US 183 corridor study after a request from the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority to look at options for bicycle and pedestrians facilities adjacent to the highway.

The Mobility Authority is also planning to add additional capacity on the US 183 corridor. The 183 North project will add two toll lanes between US 183 from RM 620 to MoPac, a fourth continuous nontolled lane and some bike and pedestrian improvements. The agency previously told Community Impact Newspaper it is unable to add continuous bicycle facilities along the US 183 frontage road because of safety issues.

One proposal on Jollyville calls for reducing the number of travel lanes from two lanes in each direction with a center turn lane to one lane in each direction with a center turn lane and added bicycle facilities.

“It’s pretty much the town center,” resident Jeanine Lehman said of Jollyville Road. “By going to three lanes, [the proposal will] have a major impact to the city.”

Martha Shumacher said she thinks there would be an increase in traffic accidents. Another resident, Roger Falk, said Jollyville is already at capacity many times a day.

“We could benefit from some improved bicycle infrastructure but not at the cost of traffic lanes,” he said.

In response to hearing from many of her constituents, District 10 Council Member Alison Alter is hosting an informal meeting Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Spicewood Springs Library, 8637 Spicewood Springs Road, Austin.

Alter said the project is still many years from being built, and the city would need to do further planning before any construction would begin.

“There’s no money allocated; nothing can happen until after the improvements on 183 North,” Alter said. “Everything will be studied and there will be a huge public input process. This was more of an exercise in planning than it was an actual attempt to do things.”

She said residents are mostly concerned about the removal of travel lanes.

“Many of them like adding bike lanes, but they don’t want to reduce the traffic lanes down,” Alter said.

Not everyone is opposed to adding more bicycle and pedestrian facilities in the area.

Miller Nuttle from Bike Austin said a city study on “right sizing” roads shows roads with fewer travel lanes could still move almost as many vehicles per hour while creating more transportation options.

“It’s important to think about the kind of city we want to be,” he said. “Do we want to be a city where kids can bike to school safely in 10 or 15 years? It’s important that we start making some of these choices to make Austin more equitable, safe and sustainable.”

Editor's note: This post was updated to provide more context on the Jollyville Road proposal in relation to the 183 North toll project.
By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and later senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels.


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