AUSTIN, Texas - Neighbors in South Austin said a new bar district on Menchaca Road is leading to serious safety issues for drivers and pedestrians.
Nearly 1,500 people have signed a petition asking for changes to the speed limit and lighting there before someone is hurt or killed.
New bars Armadillo Den and Lustre Pearl South are drawing crowds south of Slaughter Lane on Menchaca Road just outside of city limits.
"We have to drive by it and it's become a nightmare. It's become really challenging to feel safe driving along the corridor," said Cyndy Karras, secretary of the Sweetwater Glen Homeowners Association Board.
For those in the Sweetwater Glen neighborhood, bar customers illegally parking on both sides of Menchaca Road isn't just an inconvenience, especially at night. "For us, as a community, we are experiencing nearly hit and run situations or situations where residents or just bar patrons are crossing the road," Karras said.
The Sweetwater Glen HOA board started a petition to ask for help from TxDOT and the Austin Transportation Department. Currently, the speed limit in that section of the road is 55 miles per hour. The HOA believes it should be lower. They are also asking for more lighting and a traffic signal.
Austin Transportation said they are partnering with TxDOT and have installed no parking signs along the road while they explore whether to add lighting and a traffic signal. TxDOT is conducting a speed study this month to see if the road meets the criteria to lower the speed limit.
None of those things are happening fast enough for concerned neighbors.
"We feel like our only avenue is to wait until an unfortunate and tragic situation happens, like a pedestrian getting hit and killed so that the city and county officials can actually pay attention to what is happening," said Karras.
Brett Berry, co-owner of Armadillo Den, said he agrees with the concerns raised and is actively looking for a nearby business parking lot to lease in order to have valet or shuttle services for customers. The bar has also hired a parking attendant to help direct people where to park on weekends and offers discounts for rideshare customers. Still, their 55 parking spots don't seem to be enough to keep patrons from parking on Menchaca, and neighbors are fed up.
"We don't have time and we're not willing to wait as a community for something tragic to happen. We want change now. That's why we've created the petition," Karras said.