AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) said Tuesday it would be adding a new barrier along Interstate 35 to discourage pedestrians from crossing in strategic locations.
The barrier will be installed along I-35 between 51st Street and Rundberg Lane, TxDOT said.
The effort is part of the "Road to Zero" safety initiative to end traffic deaths on Texas roadways by 2050. TxDOT officials said the new barrier was an expansion of the "Be Safe Be Seen" multi-faceted pedestrian program, which was created in 2017 as a proactive approach to inform the community of safe pedestrian behaviors.
The $700,000 pilot project is funded by the Road to Zero initiative, approved by the Texas Transportation Commission in 2019, which includes $600 million over a two-year period for safety projects.
The Be Safe Be Seen program includes reflective backpacks, educational videos, no crossing signs, painted barriers and business outreach, according to TxDOT.
"Pedestrian deaths are up not only nationwide, but here in Austin," said Tucker Ferguson, the 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 two-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."
TxDOT reported that in 2019, there were 35 pedestrians killed on Austin roadways. Fourteen of those killed were on I-35.
TxDOT said the new pedestrian barrier is designed to be easily removable by emergency personnel for access in the event of a crash. The department said the barrier will also help reduce headlight glare from oncoming traffic.
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