Engineering Action in Austin, TX

In 2016, Austin, TX voters approved a 6-year $720 million mobility bond, dedicated to improving safety and access to transportation for corridors and streets across the city. More than $111 million of this funding is dedicated to active transportation, where Austin Transportation Department (ATD)’s staff have been working to improve the network of bicycle and pedestrian facilities. To move projects even more quickly, ATD selected Toole Design to join them in their office as in-house design consultants.

“ATD’s talented staff have established inter-departmental partnerships and contract mechanisms that provide unique opportunities to move projects towards construction right away.  Our job is to augment their efforts and get high quality projects built as quickly as possible,” says Sean Corcoran, P.E., Toole Design’s project manager in Austin. “The pace is fast, and we couldn’t ask for a more exciting opportunity than to work with these folks to put new bikeways, sidewalks and trails on the ground throughout Austin.”

Our street designers work in concert with ATD staff to manage the public outreach process, finalize designs to conform with national standards and best practices, and develop construction documents. We also oversee the construction administration process, working with field engineers to ensure that plans become reality quickly and efficiently to maximize ATD’s resources and effectiveness.

(From L-R: Ann DeSanctis, Dylan Johnstone, Sean Corcoran, P.E., Carly Haithcock, EIT, Tyler Wong, EIT)

So far, our Austin team has delivered curb and marking modifications at intersections around Austin to accommodate new bus routes implemented in early June. Many of these intersections went from concept to construction in a matter of weeks, to be ready for the start of new service. In addition to intersection modifications, Tyler Wong has provided analysis and concept designs for transit lanes into the downtown core. Ann DeSanctis has collaborated with the Safe Routes to School and Bikeways program to design new bike facilities, pedestrian crossings, and traffic calming on neighborhood streets. Working with ATD’s Pedestrian Program, Carly Haithcock has designed safer pedestrian crossings at problem intersections. Dylan Johnstone has provided analytical support for public engagement, producing graphics for meetings that highlight crash locations, public input provided through the City’s Vision Zero interactive map, and photographic examples from Austin of what proposed facilities would look like.

Jennifer Toole, President of Toole Design Group, notes that a growing number of cities are using this approach to speed up transportation investment. “We are fortunate to be working in cities such as Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver and the San Francisco Bay-area, where voter-approved bond and sales tax initiatives are boosting active transportation investments,” said Toole. “In Austin, as in every city, people want to see results; we are helping the City deliver demonstrable progress for citizens and stakeholders alike.”

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