Contact: Diann Hodges
Phone: (512) 832-7027
Date: March 17, 2020
AUSTIN —As part of the Texas Department of Transportation’s Road to Zero initiative, the TxDOT Austin District is expanding the Be Safe Be Seen pedestrian program to include a new pedestrian barrier along I-35 from 51st Street to Rundberg Lane. The barrier is designed to deter pedestrians from trying to cross the high-speed highway and instead use intersections that include crosswalks for pedestrian access.
“Pedestrian deaths are up not only nationwide, but also here in Austin,” remarked Tucker Ferguson, TxDOT Austin district engineer. “Last year we painted no pedestrian crossing signs on the center-line barriers near 51st Street and have seen good success. Today, we are expanding on that initiative, by adding a 2-foot panel on top of the center-line barrier and painting the no pedestrian crossing signs along a 3.3-mile stretch of I-35 where we continue to see pedestrian fatalities.”
The new pedestrian barrier is designed to be easily removeable by emergency personnel for access in the event of a crash. It will also help reduce headlight glare from oncoming traffic. The $700,000 pilot project is being paid for by the Road to Zero initiative approved by the Texas Transportation Commission in 2019. The initiative includes $600 million over a two-year period for safety projects to help reach a goal of zero deaths on Texas highways by 2050.
“Pedestrians make up a significant portion of the total number of people killed on our roads each year,” said Transportation Commissioner Laura Ryan. “These new barriers will deter pedestrians from trying to cross such a busy section of highway, and ultimately help us end the horrific streak of daily deaths on Texas roads.”
TxDOT has partnered with state lawmakers, the city of Austin, the Austin Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, business groups, schools and homeless advocates to spread the Be Safe Be Seen message throughout Austin.
"This novel approach will help reduce pedestrian fatalities - already too many of our traffic related deaths,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said. “This is Austin and the State working together to save lives."
Since the Be Safe Be Seen initiative was launched in 2017, more than 12,000 reflective bags have been distributed to pedestrians, including children and people experiencing homelessness. TxDOT has also partnered with more than 100 businesses along I-35 to display “Stay Alive, Don’t Cross I-35” window clings and table tents in English and Spanish.