The city of Austin’s Corridor Program Office on March 3 showcased plans at an open house for safety and traffic flow improvements at two intersections—one at Braker Lane and the other at Koenig Lane—along the Burnet Road corridor.
City planners have ambition to get both of the projects underway before the end of the year. The improvements planned at Burnet and Braker are especially important to get off the ground because of the limited window the city has before match play begins for Austin FC, said Mike Trimble, director of the Corridor Program Office at the city of Austin.
“We'll be getting a large base of improvements done before [Austin FC] starts their season in 2021,” Trimble said at the March 3 open house.
Burnet and Braker
City documents show holistic improvements planned for the intersection at Burnet and Braker, including multimodal solutions aimed at improving safety for cyclists, pedestrians and people on scooters.
“We are looking for improvements for all of the different modes [of transportation]. It should help everybody move around better in this corridor,” Trimble said.
Improved pedestrian crossings will be installed across every walkway at the intersection and shared use paths for pedestrians and cyclists are planned along approximately a quarter-mile along Burnet Road, beginning at Brockton Drive and moving south.
A portion of these shared-use paths will include a protected, raised bike path for behind the roadway curb, meaning cyclists will not have to ride in traffic for the length of the roadway.
“That is something we're trying to do—improve the bike network and improve the pedestrian network, as well as making it a little safer and better for people to move around in their vehicles,” Trimble said.
The city plans to bisect the roadways on Burnet and Braker by adding raised medians, according to preliminary documents. These medians will limit left turns off the roadway, though plans include dedicated access points along the medians for motorists at certain points.
Extra dedicated turn lanes will be added along both east- and westbound Braker Lane, as well as along north- and southbound Burnet Road. The roadway will expand to eight total lanes at the Burnet and Braker intersection, with planned traffic signal improvements to accommodate the traffic flow changes.
Trimble said his team is pursuing an “aggressive timeline” on the project to give themselves at least a six-month window for construction improvements before Austin FC starts hosting games at McKalla Place in spring 2021. City staff is aiming to get construction on the intersection improvements underway by October or November, Trimble said.
“Because we have a lot of drainage improvements to do, we may have to do multiple phases. ... But we are trying to get most improvements done before MLS comes in,” Trimble said.
Burnet and Koenig
The city’s planned improvements at the Burnet and Koenig intersection have a chance to get underway before the plans near the MLS stadium, Trimble said, because there are fewer drainage issues along the stretch of roadway.
Traffic signal improvements are additionally planned at the Burnet and Koenig intersection, as well as at Burnet’s intersections with Romeria Drive and White Horse Trail.
“Koenig is a major pinch point as far as intersections go, particularly when we talk about vehicles trying to get through,” Trimble said.
A pedestrian signal will be installed near the intersection of Allandale Road and White Rock Drive, city documents show. Trimble said this signal will improve pedestrian safety for students of the nearby Lamar Middle School as they cross Allandale.
Further safety improvements are planned pedestrian and cyclists with a shared-use path on both northbound and southbound Burnet. Portions of that path will feature a raised bike lane behind the curb, similar to the bike paths planned at Burnet and Braker.
City staff once again plan to install raised medians as a means to reduce left turn lanes off Burnet into shopping centers.
“As we queue up traffic, looking at minimizing those turning movements, especially near the intersections, is really important. That's what the medians are for, and not just to improve safety but improve traffic flow. The less turning movements you have, the better traffic flow you have off it,” Trimble said.
The Corridor Program Office has three more open house meetings scheduled before the end of the year, where residents and business owners are invited to review city plans and provide comment. The next open house meeting is scheduled for June 4 at Recycled Reads, located at 5335 Burnet Road, Austin. Copies of the Burnet corridor improvement plans can be found on the Corridor Program Office's website.