New crosswalks and traffic signals have already been installed on the southern end of the corridor—near the North Lamar Transit Center at the road’s intersection with US 183—and construction is underway on yet more pedestrian mobility improvements.
The city of Austin’s Corridor Program Office completed safety improvements at North Lamar’s intersections at Fairfield Drive, Cooper Drive, Grady Drive and Payton Gin Road. Construction of a new crosswalk and traffic signal at the intersection with West Powell Lane is expected to be done by the end of December, according to Anna Martin, assistant director with the Austin Transportation Department.
With this handful of pedestrian safety projects coming to an end, city staff can now pivot its attention to a series of roadway improvements that recently received environmental clearances from the Texas Department of Transportation.
According to a Nov. 18 news release from the Corridor Program Office, a series of projects along the North Lamar corridor—defined as running from US 183 to Howard Lane—may now proceed with construction. These improvements will add new traffic signals, intersection modifications, bus stop improvements, shared-use paths, median installations, drainage improvements and 6 miles of pavement rehabilitation.
“There are sections on North Lamar that don’t have a drainage system and that’s why we don’t have sidewalks, so we’ll be installing a drainage system,” Martin said.
City crews will realign crosswalks at Rundberg Lane and will add a westbound right turn lane at Braker Lane as part of these future projects.
These improvements are currently under design, Martin said, and are scheduled to be finished in segments from 2022-24.
The intersection work planned throughout the North Lamar corridor will help to deliver increased safety to a section of road that has historically been a hazardous route to travel by bike, foot and automobile.
Austin Transportation has identified the North Lamar corridor as one of the city’s 13 high-injury roadways. These roadways make up just 8% of the city’s streets, but account for approximately 70% of severe injuries and fatalities citywide, Martin said.
“It has been a historic problem,” Martin said. “There is a lack of safe pedestrian crossing [on North Lamar,] and in a lot of places just a lack of sidewalks.”
According to data collected by Austin Transportation, there have been seven traffic-related fatalities on North Lamar from US 183 to West Parmer Lane since 2016.
City crews will add a large chunk of sidewalk that will help with pedestrian safety next spring. The Corridor Program Office in October started construction on a half-mile stretch of shared-use path from Caddo Street to the entrance of the On the Green apartment complex.
Martin added the city expects to start work on crosswalk safety improvements around the nearby Wooldridge Elementary School in summer 2021 as part of the Safe Routes to School program.
Ultimately, the project will add protected bicycle lanes, traffic signal improvements and lane realignments along Parkfield Drive between Mearns Meadow Boulevard and Payton Gin Road. A total of 11 pedestrian crossing islands and raised crossings will be added to neighborhood streets near Wooldridge Elementary.