Barton Springs Road Safety Pilot Shows Positive Results

Reducing lanes means fewer crashes, less speeding

Barton Springs Road has a problem with crashes (Courtesy of City of Austin)

Last August, the Austin Transportation and Public Works Department installed a pilot of new safety improvements to Barton Springs Road. New data shows those changes have worked to reduce crashes and speeding.

Before the pilot, Barton Springs Road was notoriously unsafe, with one crash between Stratford Drive and South Lamar recorded every week since 2018. A particularly intense crash in April 2022 that seriously injured 10 pedestrians spurred the city to consider changes, the biggest being a reduction to one lane in each direction between Azie Morton and South Lamar. Lanes were also added at intersections, bus stops were relocated to places with crossings, physical separators were added between bike and vehicle lanes, and better sidewalk crossings over Barton Springs Road connected pedestrian routes through Zilker Park. The project was funded using part of the $460 million 2020 mobility bond.

In February, the city surveyed more than 1,600 people on their reactions – more than 70% said they supported the changes, and two-thirds said they feel very or somewhat comfortable driving on Barton Springs Road since they were installed. City-collected data shows that the daily average number of people driving faster than 40 mph declined 65% over the six-month pilot period. However, around 27% responded that the changes made the road function somewhat worse than they expected. And there are some concessions that come with safety: Because the city removed some lanes, the length of time cars have to wait at signals has increased, because they’re waiting in one line instead of two.

Last June before the changes were installed, many people had concerns about increased traffic congestion, according to a community feedback survey. But city data shows travel times have remained largely the same, only increasing by a range of 3-10 seconds. Over the past month, there’s also been an increase in “multi-modal activity as the weather improves” – meaning, more bikers and pedestrians going to Barton Springs.

The city will continue to monitor and adjust signal operations over the summer months and will present a final update on the pilot and next steps in late summer/early fall. You can read the six-month report, the mid-pilot feedback summary report, and all survey comments at www.austintexas.gov/BartonSpringsRd.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Barton Springs, Barton Springs Road, Austin Transportation and Public Works Department

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