Neighbors in South Austin put up 'slow down' signs hoping drivers, city leaders will pay attention

Speeding on West Oltorf Street between South Lamar Boulevard and South First Street in South Austin is nothing new, but what is new are 100 signs urging drivers to "SLOW DOWN."

The effort was spearheaded by Janet Mash, whose 19-year-old son was hit by an SUV while riding his bike back in October. 

"An SUV hit him on south 5th Street, drove down Oltorf with him on the dash, he was on his bike. And when he came up to the top of the hill at 4th Street he flew off of the bike and the car drove off," said Mash. 

The crash left him with whiplash, a sprained knee and back injuries, but thankfully he's OK. 

"I was just so grateful because I know that he could be dead," said Mash.

Sadly, two people have died on this stretch of Oltorf in the past four years, with at least four other crashes involving serious injuries, according to the Austin Transportation Department. 

Mash decided enough was enough, teaming up with her neighbors like Steven Riva, who is also a public policy consultant. 

"It was just neighbors that came together and said how many signs can we get, and we came up with a number of 100," said Rivas.

"I said, well, let’s try this. It might get people’s attention at least for a period of time," said Mash.

"It definitely has made a difference. People notice it, and sometimes you see cars going as slow as funeral procession," said Esteban Sanchez, who lives on West Oltorf.

Others are less optimistic. 

"They’re not going to pay much attention, they might look at their speedometer and realize they’re over the speed limit," said Buzz Avery, who lives in the area.

Mash and Rivas admit this isn't a permanent solution, and want action from the city. 

"Let’s maybe bring it down to one lane, have some medians, some safe pedestrian crossings. Lower the speed limit with increased signage," said Rivas. 

Austin Transportation Department spokesperson Jack Flagler said in a statement: 

"Austin Transportation has identified this stretch of Oltorf Street as a priority location for curve warning signs, advisory speed signs, raised pavement markings and refreshed striping to alert drivers and slow speeds. That work to make those improvements is scheduled to begin later this spring."

"Right now, there’s someone’s son, brother, daughter on a bicycle and a motorcycle. Their lives should not be lost along this corridor," said Rivas.

"We want something to change in our neighborhood so that we feel safe," said Mash. 

Austin Transportation is also looking at placing Dynamic Speed Display Devices that show drivers how fast they're going in real time along that stretch of Oltorf Street. That change could happen within the next few months. 

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