North Austin transportation notes: Capital Metro fielding input on Orange Line; city set to begin school crossing safety work

Parkfield Drive
Construction on the first phase of pedestrian safety improvements along Parkfield Drive in North Austin is scheduled to begin this spring. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Construction on the first phase of pedestrian safety improvements along Parkfield Drive in North Austin is scheduled to begin this spring. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Capital Metro extends public meeting window for Orange Line information

Because of delays caused by Winter Storm Uri in February, local transit planning agency Capital Metro has elected to keep materials for two of its future rail line projects available for public review through the end of the week.

Capital Metro will keep materials for its public scoping meetings for the Orange Line and Blue Line open through March 12, according to a March 8 newsletter from the Austin Transportation Department. Public scoping meetings are necessary to acquire environmental clearances from the state for the transportation projects, according to the newsletter.

Both rail projects are part of the voter-approved Project Connect package, which will add bus and rail transit lines throughout Austin over the next several decades.

The Orange Line is a light-rail route that will eventually connect the Tech Ridge transit center in North Austin to the Slaughter transit center in South Austin.

Capital Metro has published several materials on its website for review by the public. Residents can review route maps and fact sheets for the Orange Line as well as an extended presentation for the project that includes a list of stakeholders and oversight agencies, links to other Project Connect transit improvements, and contact information for the project.

Materials can be found and public input can be added here through March 12.

Parkfield Drive pedestrian improvements primed for spring construction start

Now that it has finished collecting and reviewing community feedback on the project, the city of Austin will soon begin construction on pedestrian safety improvements near Wooldridge Elementary School in North Austin.

According to a February newsletter from the Austin Transportation Department, improvements to pedestrian crossings at more than a handful of intersections on Parkfield Drive will be constructed in three phases.

Improvements will be made along Parkfield Drive from Payton Gin Road to Mearns Meadow Boulevard—about 0.8 miles of roadway.

The first phase of construction will cover improvements from Payton Gin to Rundberg Lane and is scheduled to begin later this spring, according to the newsletter. These improvements will include adding new lane markings, pedestrian crossings, protected bike lanes and high visibility crosswalk markings.

In the second phase of construction, the city will install new sidewalks, pedestrian crossing islands and intersection improvements. The city did not provide a starting date for the second phase in its newsletter.

A third phase of construction will add protected bike lanes and parking adjustments from Rundberg to Mearns Meadow in the future.

The city said in the newsletter that some changes have been made to the original project design. The changes include shorter crossing distances at the new protected intersection at Payton Gin and Parkfield as well as new crossing islands at the intersections of Parkfield and Colony Creek Drive and Parkfield and Woodfield Drive.

Further lane adjustments, including removing some parking lanes and center turn lanes, have also been updated in the city’s plans, according to the newsletter.

The changes were made following city review of community input on the upcoming pedestrian safety improvements. According to the city, 75% of respondents “strongly supported or somewhat supported” the changes.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.