TxDOT is encouraging people to “Stay Alive, Don’t Cross I-35” in Austin

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In an effort to address an increase in the number of pedestrian deaths and injuries on I-35, the Texas Department of Transportation is ramping up its Be Safe Be Seen initiative.

Launched in November 2017, the initiative aims to improve safety on I-35 and in other high-traffic pedestrian areas and construction zones, according to TxDOT.

As part of Phase 2 of the program, the state agency installed 26 no pedestrian crossing signs on barriers along the I-35 frontage roads and main lanes at 51st Street.

“Crossing a busy interstate that has a posted speed of 60 to 70 mph is not just dangerous, it’s deadly,” said Terry McCoy, TxDOT Austin District Engineer, in a news release. “By painting the no crossing symbol directly on the barrier, we hope to alert pedestrians before they make the fatal decision to step onto the highway.”

In the past four years, 41 pedestrian-related crashes have occurred along I-35 in the city of Austin, according to TxDOT data. Of those, 21 were fatal. As of Feb. 15, the Austin Police Department has reported three pedestrian deaths on I-35 in 2019, including one involving a pedestrian on a scooter.

At the 51st Street intersection with the southbound I-35 frontage roads, TxDOT also recently completed a two-lane roundabout. Improvements included bicycle and pedestrian enhancements, such as raised crosswalks and pedestrian crossing signals. The $16.5 million project, to which the city of Austin contributed $9.2 million, was part of TxDOT’s My35 program.

“There are safe ways for pedestrians to cross I-35, including the new 51st Street interchange, which has a dedicated foot and bike path,” McCoy said.

TxDOT is also working with area businesses to provide window clings and table tents with the messaging “Stay Alive, Don’t Cross I-35.”

The Be Safe Be Seen initiative has also included distributing reflective backpacks, educational safety videos and handouts, according to the agency, which has passed out more than 8,000 bags.

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  1. I applaud keeping people from crossing I-35, but I’m not sure that these solution match the problems. I’ve come within 20 feet of 3 people within the last year crossing I-35. I don’t think a sign or a slogan is going to help. There probably needs to be more physical barriers in selected areas. The people I saw appeared to either have psychological issues or were on drugs. I think it’s important to target the types of people who are struggling with this issue, and not treat it like other common traffic issues. People in good mental standing don’t try to cross 8 lanes of freeway.

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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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