AUSTIN, Texas - During COVID-19 lockdowns in the spring, Austin saw a big drop in the number of cars on the road. Now, the City's Transportation Department says depending on the time of day, some parts of Austin are dealing with more traffic.
Jen Duthie with the Austin Transportation Department says they've been monitoring traffic volume and travel time comparing the data from February to now. She said while drive time has decreased on the roadways, that is because the volume of drivers has also decreased. However, right now the city is about 80% of where they were pre-COVID.
“The P.M. peak is more different than the A.M. peak,” Duthie said. “We're seeing traffic volume is down 18%."
Duthie said traffic patterns are increasing in the outer parts of Austin, for example in areas like RM 620, Loop 360, Parmer Lane, Burnet Road, Lamar north of Guadalupe, Cameron/Dessau, US 290 W, parts of William Cannon Drive, and Slaughter Lane.
Duthie said that they have around 500 cameras around town where they watch traffic in real-time. Because of that, according to data, they have been able to tell morning traffic volumes have decreased. In September, traffic volume in the morning was almost down to 50%; now it is about 34%.
During the “mid-day” peak, Duthie said there is still traffic because people are getting out and about to run errands. “People will run errands during the day in a way that they wouldn’t if they were at work,” she said. “So we're seeing that midday traffic pick up a little."
In the afternoon, for that “rush-hour” peak, last week, volume was down to 18 percent.
Duthie said while traffic isn’t back to levels Austinites are used to, “Overall we're still seeing decreased level of traffic that may be slightly increasing but still facing flat.” She said residents should be thankful there is some relief during these times.
"Austin is typically a difficult place to get around in the evening rush areas and that's not the case right now," she said.
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