Welcome to the South River City Citizens!

THERE IS NO GENERAL MEETING IN JANUARY! Our next meeting will be on Monday, Feb. 5th at 7:15pm at Life in the City United Methodist Church (formerly Grace UMC) at 205 East Monroe St. All are welcome! Interested in updates from SRCC? Sign up for our Monthly Update emails to get updates on local events and key issues. Want to be a voting member? Click here for  membership details .

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Winter 2018 SRCC Newsletter

The Winter 2017 edition of the SRCC Newsletter has been printed and delivery is underway. You can also get a head start on reading it here.

Complete delivery of the paper newsletter to thousands of homes takes a few weeks. If it’s been a while and you have not received your copy, please contact Gretchen Otto at president@srccatx.org.

A huge thanks to all the volunteers (area coordinators and block captains) needed in order to hand-distribute our newsletter! For many of our residents, this is still the only way for them to stay informed on what’s going on in our area.

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Transportation Department defends “speed cushions”

Posted from the Austin Monitor.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 by Jack Craver

Transportation Department defends ‘speed cushions’

Transportation Director Robert Spillar showed up at a meeting of the Public Safety Commission on Monday to defend “speed cushions,” the traffic-calming devices that have infuriated motorists across the city, most notably in a Northwest Austin neighborhood that successfully campaigned to have them removed.

“We hate to put them out there, but the other side of the story is they’re really effective at getting people to drive a more safe and reasonable speed,” said Spillar.

Tests the department has run near speed cushions have shown that cars slow down significantly in response to them. “We find that we get good compliance, quite honestly,” he said.

Spillar also rejected the idea that the cushions caused serious pain to drivers: “If you slow down, we maintain that there is little to no pain caused.”

How slow? Spillar said cars should be slowing down to 10 miles per hour. He recognizes that isn’t necessarily popular.

“That is an irritant for folks on streets posted at 30 miles per hour,” he said.

There’s a big difference in terms of safety between a car going 30 miles per hour and one that is going 40. The former has a 50 percent chance of killing a pedestrian it strikes, while the latter will kill a pedestrian 90 percent of the time.

Nevertheless, Spillar acknowledged that there are concerns around the country about the impact that the cushions have on those with certain spinal conditions. The city of Boulder, Colorado, he said, had decided against putting them in place “out of an abundance of caution” of running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The city of Austin, however, is confident that the cushions are legally sound. At the very least, the Transportation Department is not aware of any successful lawsuits against the devices or other relevant case law that would suggest that the cushions are illegal.

Those assurances did not assuage John Woodley and Karen Sironi, who showed up for the second time to the commission’s meeting to plead for the cushions’ elimination, arguing that the department’s insistence on maintaining them showed a callous disregard for those suffering from musculoskeletal issues.

“They do not care that they are hurting people,” said Sironi, who has said that going over the cushions is extremely painful for her due to a spinal injury she suffered in a car accident years ago.

Commissioner Noel Landuyt wondered if there are effective – and perhaps less annoying – alternatives to speed cushions, such as simply lowering the speed limit on a street. The problem with that, replied Spillar, is that people don’t obey speed limits. Instead, people tend to drive the speed they believe makes sense based on the design and size of the street.

What type of factors get people to slow down? Narrower streets help, as does on-street parking. The more cluttered the street feels, the more hesitant drivers are to press on the gas.

“A lot of people think that on-street parking makes it more dangerous; it actually makes it safer,” said Spillar.

Asked why the department is opting for the rubber speed cushions as opposed to the traditional asphalt humps, Spillar explained that the new devices can be spaced so that emergency vehicles don’t hit the bumps at all. In fact, Spillar noted, large SUVs can evade the cushions as well.

In Austin’s experience, the rubber cushions have cost significantly less than the asphalt humps, which Spillar acknowledged were a little bit “gentler.” However, transportation staff is aware of other cities that have been able to install asphalt for much less money.

“So we’re asking those other cities how they achieve that,” said Spillar.

A solution that makes everybody happy just isn’t always possible, he explained.

“Every time we go into a neighborhood, there’s always debate,” he said. “We try our best to work those differences (among neighbors) out, but in the end, it comes down to an engineering recommendation that we have to carry forward.”

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2001 Traffic Study of St. Edwards Drive

Back in 2001, concerned neighbors of Sherwood Oaks took it upon themselves to conduct a traffic study of St. Edwards Drive to determine how much vehicular traffic that road was seeing. A dedicated group of volunteers sat outside all day and counted by hand the number of cars that used the road. You can click here to read the report. Below are some photos from the event. Pictured are Elloa Mathews, Jean Mather, Sue McGee, then-SRCC President Clarke Hammond, and Frank Richter.

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Mobility Updates

February updates on mobility projects in the neighborhood:

City of Austin Local Mobility Plan 2018 Projects. Two key projects aimed at vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian safety are slated for construction using 2016 Bond funding. Construction of intersection improvements at Congress and Oltorf aims to reduce collisions and increase bicycle and pedestrian safety with dedicated pathways, reduced driveways and center lane medians. Austin Transportation Department estimates completion Summer 2018.

The second bond-funded Local Mobility project slated for construction in 2018 is the sidewalk project along Long Bow, Carnarvon and St. Edwards Drive. The goal is to increase pedestrian safety on key routes that connect people and places to the Congress Avenue bus system.

http://austin.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=21b476780a7347429d62a2e578b11ae9

Additional City of Austin Transportation Department projects scheduled for construction in 2018 include:

1) Traffic calming project along St. Edwards Drive. Phase 1 includes speed cushions engineered to slow vehicle traffic from IH-35 to Eastside Drive. According to ATD staff, placement and spacing of cushions will be determined by engineering practices and empirical experience. Phase 1 is scheduled to begin construction Spring 2018 and be completed by Summer 2018. Phase 2 will include medians and pedestrian refuge islands along St. Edwards Drive between Eastside Drive and Carnarvon. The final design of Phase 2 will depend upon the configuration of the sidewalk project, and is anticipated to commence upon completion of the sidewalk project.

2) Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon at Riverside and Alameda. This pedestrian activated beacon is funded by the “quarter cent” revenue shared by Cap Metro and has been issued for construction in Spring 2018.

Planning level projects in the neighborhood include the South Congress Avenue Mobility Plan, another City of Austin Transportation Department effort, funded separately from Bond or quarter cent revenue.

As part of the South Congress Avenue Corridor Mobility Plan development, the City of Austin will seek input from the community through two rounds of public engagement. The first portion of public engagement is occurring throughout Spring 2018. Please join us at one of our upcoming public engagement events:
Pop-In Meeting
Date: Saturday, February 10th
Time: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (stop by anytime!)
Location: Jo’s Coffee (1300 S. Congress Avenue)
Description: Stop by our table anytime to learn more about development of the South Congress Avenue Corridor Mobility Plan and the Corridor Mobility Program. You can fill out a brief survey and chat with members of our team.
Public Open House Meeting
Date: Tuesday, February 27th
Time: 5 – 8 p.m. (stop by anytime!)
Location: Fulmore Middle School (201 E. Mary St.)
Description: Drop in our Public Open House meeting on February 27th to speak with the Corridor Mobility Team, to see large maps of the Corridor Mobility Plan area, to fill out a brief survey, and to provide detailed feedback about potential mobility improvements you’d like to see along South Congress Avenue.

https://data.austintexas.gov/stories/s/South-Congress-Avenue-Corridor/dkif-cpwk

Last but not least, Cap Metro is seeking input on mass transit options for Congress Avenue via their Project Connect
effort. You can peruse the website and SRCC has invited a Cap Metro rep to attend our April meeting.
https://capmetro.org/projects/
Stay tuned for details.

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Neighborhood Watch Patrol program is re-starting!

After several years of languishing without a leader, the SRCC’s Neighborhood Watch Program is set to get back on track and back on our streets! Neighbor Tom Groce has volunteered to step up as Public Safety Committee Chair and will lead our efforts at getting patrols going again. The Austin Police Department requires that each volunteer be trained prior to participating in patrols, so we have arranged for a training to take place at the church:

SRCC Neighborhood Watch Patrol Training
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Life In The City United Methodist Church
205 E. Monroe St
6:30pm to approximately 8:30pm

The training is being conducted by Veronica Saldate, from the Office of Community Liaison, Austin Police Department.

Patrols may be done in a vehicle, by bike, or on foot. The program emphasizes patrolling safely and avoiding direct confrontations. Suspicious activity is reported to 911.

All current volunteers for the Neighborhood Watch, as well as anyone else interested in participating in the Neighborhood Watch are asked to attend. Please contact Tom directly if you have any questions:

Thomas P. Groce
SRCC Public Safety Chair
tgroce71@gmail.com

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