Austin’s Traffic Congestion Action Plan

April 2, 2015 by Kate Harrington

It’s not flashy, but the City of Austin’s new “Traffic Congestion Action Plan” aims to make a big difference in the city’s traffic problems.

City Manager Marc Ott laid out the plan March 27 at a news conference, along with Mayor Steve Adler and Councilmember Ann Kitchen.

“We have to look at every aspect of congestion,” Ott said. “That includes commuting, signal management, law enforcement, construction, special events, parking management and mass transit.”

The plan includes both immediate and longer-term actions, some of which will evolve as existing strategies are put into action and evaluated.

According to the Austin Transportation Department, the plan’s immediate actions will include:

  • Deploying dedicated traffic mobility police officers at key intersections.
  • Expanding staffing and use of the Traffic Management Center during peak commute times.
  • Launching a “Don’t Block the Box” campaign to remind drivers to not block intersections.
  • Enforcing on-street delivery rules to avoid blocking traffic.
  • Making construction and/or other improvements at critical intersections to improve mobility.
photo credit: Don’t Block the Box (cc)

And mid- to long-term proposals include:

  • Fully implementing the Advanced Traffic Management System that will allow engineers to diagnose signal problems in real time, fix signals quickly and manage traffic peaks during rush hours and special events.
  • Accelerating the City’s wayfinding project that includes signage and means to help travelers have access to Austin and the region’s major roadways.
  • Working with Capital Metro to enhance transit routes to and from Downtown.

Ott also directed all City departments to reduce the number of employees commuting during peak hours by 20 percent, a strategy Movability Austin has proposed for Austin-area employers. Movability, along with a number of public and private partners, launched the 20/20 Solutions Initiative last fall. That effort aims to get public and private sector employers in Austin to agree to a 20 percent reduction in their workforces’ drive alone commutes to work.

Strategies like the 20/20 Initiative and those the City is proposing are known as TDM, or transportation demand management, which focuses on how people use existing transportation infrastructure, rather than simply building more infrastructure. Some transportation experts praise TDM as a cost-effective way out of crippling congestion for cities.

What do you think of the City’s Traffic Congestion Action Plan?

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Written by Kate Harrington

Kate is a former reporter, most recently for the Austin Business Journal, where she covered real estate, economic development and transportation. Since 2010 she has been running Thumbtack Communications. Thumbtack provides writing, editing and marketing services. Before moving to Austin in 2002 Kate lived in her native New England, which she still visits often to escape the Texas heat.