Last month, we asked our intrepid readers to weigh in on their least favorite intersections in Austin. Based on the record-setting number of responses we received (apparently traffic congestion is an issue people here feel very strongly about) we’ve selected the 10 intersections that showed up the most in our survey, and now it’s time to pick the worst of the bunch — click here or use the embedded form below:
We’re not pretending this survey is particularly scientific, since you could argue the “worst” intersection is the one where the most crashes happen, but that doesn’t factor in the broad range of experiences that can make an intersection unsafe or just unpleasant — a poor pedestrian environment, subpar cycling infrastructure, misaligned streets, befuddling signals, and so forth. Here are some responses from readers about what they’d do to fix a couple of the intersections in our top ten:
What would it take to fix the intersection of Cesar Chavez and Red River Streets?
Realign Red River, create obvious turn and go-straight lanes on Red River that people can understand, as well as appropriate turn signals, and create bike/scooter lanes so they are not turning in front of cars and mowing down pedestrians in the process. Create safe sidewalks and pedestrian cross walks. An overhead crosswalk would be best, but pedestrians most likely won’t take the time to climb up there.
Build a pedestrian bridge between the northwest and southwest corners of Red River Street.
Re-alignment of all lanes, leveling the awful sidewalk-staircase, implementing bike lanes and a proper bus turnout, re-aligning the sidewalks, widening the sidewalks, and landscaping to create a “grand entrance” to the Rainey Neighborhood.
Dedicated Scooter /bike lanes, pedestrian friendly walkways that don’t thrust people right into traffic, clear signage of where to park, Uber or bike, and wider pedestrian lanes to allow all mobilities to mix together. I’ve witnessed scooters blatantly crossing against traffic during rush hour, drunk people wandering down the street next to construction and lost drivers stopping in traffic looking for parking.
Blow up I-35.
Realign it, add an east-bound curb lane to help move traffic to the right turn to 35 South, left-hand turn signal from southbound RR to east-bound CC, better sidewalks, pedestrian bridges. Widening RR both north and south of CC would also help with Rainey district issues.
What would it take to fix the intersection of North Lamar Boulevard with West Fifth and West Sixth Streets? (We’re combining these here because together they got an insane amount of responses)
I would tunnel Lamar underground between 5th and 6th Street so through traffic is removed from the surface. Then, I’d convert Lamar between 5th and 6th to a vehicle-free pedestrian mall in order to better facilitate all the pedestrian activity in the area. It’d also be ideal if the surface parking lot in front of Whole Foods was changed into something with a more pedestrian-friendly use, like a park or retail similar to what’s already on the west side of Lamar. There would still be one lane of Lamar at 5th and 6th Streets, but it would a right-turn only lane. This configuration would completely eliminate left-turns from all approaches. These former left-turn movements can still be accommodated by better signal timing at Bowie St and West Ave to the east of Lamar, and at Baylor and Walsh St to the west of Lamar. Finally, I’d reconfigure the approaches of 5th and 6th to have a bus lane and a protected bike lane since the space used by the left-turn lanes would no longer be necessary.
Build a tunnel under 6th and 5th to get traffic going north and south moving without a light.
Run the green light at 5th longer to give the cars more room to get in when the light changes. Set the traffic back farther on 6th so they don’t feel like they can make a yellow light and get stuck.
Tunnel Lamar lanes underground starting north of 6th, fortunately there is grade change to make re-entry south of 5th not that hard. Saw that one coming 15 years ago as Priority #1. Cluster fork.
It probably needs to be more interstate like, with overpasses and overpasses so no stopping necessary. Safe pedestrian and cycle crossings can be part of it. Just move traffic straight in through to the next lights, which aren’t far. Make the ramps from between Cesar Chavez and Lamar into true entrance/exit ramps. Since many of the streets rise in elevation approaching that 5th/6th/Lamar crossing, sinking Lamar and providing overpasses with pedestrian bridges for 5th and 6th makes sense.
Bigger signs about one way. An overpass for pedestrians or one four corners crosswalk to give pedestrians the free walk during the light cycle. Also speed up the red lights everywhere in town so that these self-involved drivers don’t have time to look at their cell phone to check Instagram and Facebook and then miss an entire green light.
Pedestrians should all cross at same time, allow for diagonal crossing. Never put cars & peds in intersection at same time. Major European cities use this at busy intersections.
We’ll announce the results of our poll next week. After that, the sky’s the limit! Maybe we’ll give the winning intersection some sort of trophy.