Traffic must exit the Avana neighborhood, and others, from a stop sign at Escarpment into 70 mph traffic on SH45 with no acceleration lane. After several serious injury accidents, residents started a petition for a signal light. – Photo: Google maps
by Bobbie Jean Sawyer
AUSTIN – When Brian Hoyt witnessed a crash at the intersection of SH 45 and Escarpment he knew something had to change.
“Somebody was trying to cross the highway and got T-boned. There were probably three cars—maybe four cars—involved in the accident. Unfortunately, I saw bodies laying on the road being worked on by EMS,” Hoyt said. “I did what the police told me and turned up Escarpment and drove on to work that day. I thought, this is awful and maybe something’s got to be done about this.”
Less than a week later there was another crash at the same intersection. Hoyt decided to take action.
He started a petition on change.org calling for “sensible traffic planning” on SH 45. The petition has since garnered over 600 signatures, which is over 10 percent of the household population in Circle C.
The petition calls for stoplights at crossover intersections, a reduced speed limit and off-highway bike and walking paths between SH 45 and RM 1826.
Hoyt, who lives in a housing development off of SH 45, said he took notice of the dangerous intersections in the Circle C area when he moved to Austin three years ago.
“This neighborhood was one of the first neighborhoods I visited and I’m actually kind of shocked that I moved to one of these developments that is right off (SH 45) because I remember thinking how crazy it was that the speed limit was 70 miles per hour and there was no turnoff into the Muirfield housing community, or many of the roads that are basically connected to 45,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt said population growth and development has spurred a high traffic volume beyond what the current road can handle.
“I think what TxDOT needs to do is recognize that what was a highway in a rural community—where 70 miles an hour may have at one time been appropriate—is now a residential road that’s surrounded by numerous housing communities that want to be connected to the greater host of Circle C,” Hoyt said. “This road has turned into the Austin Autobahn.”
Sarah Humphrey, Circle C Community Center Coordinator, said the Circle C community has long been vying for a stoplight at the Escarpment and SH 45 intersection to help prevent further T-bone collisions.
“I know a lot of folks are really keeping their fingers crossed to get a light out there,” said Humphrey. “It’s really difficult to tell who’s where. You could be looking at cars that look like they’re on the back hill but maybe there are some on the uphill that you just didn’t see yet.”
Hoyt said the intersection is similar to the high-traffic Mopac South and La Crosse intersection.
“There were so many accidents there they finally ended up putting a light in there. Now that’s a major thoroughfare for pedestrians and cyclists who are going to the Veloway,” Hoyt said. “They need to do the same thing at Escarpment and Slaughter.”
Hoyt’s petition has the support of the Circle C HOA, which has requested a meeting with TxDOT to address the safety concerns on SH 45. Hoyt also submitted the petition as part of the online open house for the SH 45 Environmental Impact Statement at sh45sw.com, asking TxDOT to consider changes to the intersections as they plan the SH 45 expansion.
Hoyt said improvements to SH 45 intersections are part of a greater need to address Austin’s infrastructure shortcomings.
“Hundreds of people are coming every week to this city and we need to have sensible development as the city grows. We can’t ignore it and think that folks will just go away,” Hoyt said. “This is now one of the largest cities in the country and our infrastructure is woefully behind other cities that are similar in size.”
Link to petition:
August 20, 2015 //
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