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Austin City Council tackles Sobering Center funding, speed limit reductions at meeting

The speed limit reductions affect portions of major Austin roads.

AUSTIN, Texas — Items that impact your drive, your safety and a possible new development were all on Thursday’s Austin City Council agenda.

One of the items approved include lowering speed limits on portions of major roads like Lamar, Riverside, Pleasant Valley and Airport Boulevard. In particular, Airport Boulevard east of Interstate Highway 35, has some of the highest number of car crashes in the city.

The speed limit reduction is part of the city's Vision Zero plan.

“We know how important it is to reduce speeds to see the outcome of those crashes be less severe over time,” said Lewis Leff, transportation safety officer for the City of Austin.

Those roads are: Cameron Road, Airport Boulevard, Stassney Lane, Grove Boulevard, Montopolis Drive, Lamar Boulevard, Pleasant Valley and Riverside.

The speed limit reduction for most of the roads will be 5 mph. For example, from 45 mph to 40 mph.

You can read which specific part of the road will have its speed limit reduced on Austin City Council’s agenda starting at item 67.

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“When we see an interaction between the motor vehicle and a pedestrian, motor vehicle and a bicycle, that five miles an hour might be the difference between surviving that or just having a serious injury,” said Leff.

City council on Thursday also accepted grant funding for APD for a new program called Project Safe Neighborhoods to improve the criminal justice system in the city.

Council also gave the green light to allow the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST) to use office space at the Sobering Center downtown.

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Council also approved nearly $2 million to keep the Sobering Center open.

One of the most important projects in front of council is the 4700 E. Riverside Drive development, called by some as "The Domain on Riverside." That area of Riverside is home to apartments for college students. Developers want to demolish those and build 4,700 new units along with office and hotel space.

The attorney for the project, Michael Whellen, said in part, “We analyzed all city policies and goals, which were based on tremendous input from residents and experts. Then, we met with residents, neighbors and stakeholders and incorporated every constructive idea into our proposal.”

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As of 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, city council has yet to take that item up.

This would be the final approval for a rezoning ordinance to pave the way for the development.


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