Ortega Elementary neighborhood hoping City of Austin will make roads safer

At the corner of Mason of Ledesma in East Austin, there's a memorial.
   
According to Fox 7 records, 13-year-old Mercedes Cervantes was hit by a car in 2005 when she was riding her bike down Mason and didn't stop at the intersection.  A car hit her and she was killed.
   
Last year, a similar situation.

"Thankfully she survived.  But that's two incidents already.  And that's two too many," said Reyes Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has lived in the area since 2003.  He says he and others in the neighborhood with the Ortega Elementary Campus Advisory Committee have been asking the city for years to put in speed cushions, 4-way stops and a sidewalk along Mason.

"I've contacted Mayor Adler and I've spoken to him more than once and yet nothing is still happening.  You can talk the talk all you want but actions speak louder than words," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez says he's spoken with council members from the new council and the old council.

"I've been to mobility studies downtown at City Council, I've been to pedestrian advisory committees more than once," Rodriguez said.

He says the city has even been out to look at the area.

"The city staff, they've come out to our meetings and that's when they said that they did their studies but it was not needed," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez can't understand why the city can't make these very basic safety upgrades to his neighborhood when in North Austin on Swearingen Drive there is literally a crossing for Guineas Birds.

Fox 7 spoke with the City of Austin Transportation Department.  They say some of the criteria and guidelines for 4-way stops involve the amount of traffic on the roads and how many reported crashes in a 12-month period.
   
But they did say engineers are studying Mason and Ledesma and should have recommendations for improvements in the coming weeks.
   
We also spoke with John Eastman, the Project Manager in the Sidewalk and Special Projects Division for Public Works.
   
He says there are about 2400 miles of absent sidewalks in the city and they're prioritized.
   
Eastman says part of Mason is high priority, part is medium.

"There's a lot of high and some very high priority sidewalks in that neighborhood and in particular the sidewalks are missing on both sides of the street in that neighborhood which at the very least in residential areas we're trying to get a sidewalk on at least one side of the streets to allow children a safe place to walk to schools," Eastman said.

Eastman says they are working on revising the sidewalk master plan and hope it get it to council by June.  He says they are hoping to hear from the public on what they come up with.
   
We reached out to Council Member Ora Houston whose district runs through the area along with Council Member Renteria's.  Houston sent a statement saying:

"I talked with Council Member Renteria to share my support on these issues that border District 1 and 3, and included the concerns that were presented to me by Mr. Reyes Rodriguez in my priority list of projects. As part of the District 1 quarter-cent fund appropriations, a pedestrian hybrid beacon will be installed on E. 12th Street so children can safely cross the street to get to Givens Recreation Center. I added the four way stop at Ledesma and Mason to the next projects priority list which the Austin Transportation Department is analyzing the feasibility for and will be addressed by an area engineer." - Council Member Ora Houston, District 1
 

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