Traffic nightmare: Cesar Chavez intersection in front of Austin City Hall
AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - "It's just a very heavily-traveled intersection where we get a lot of complaints," said Austin Police Detective Patrick Oborski with APD's Highway Enforcement.
If you're a downtown Austin commuter you know the place: the Cesar Chavez intersection in front of City Hall. "4 major roads, you've got South First Street, you've got Lavaca and you've got Cesar Chavez all combining into 1 big intersection," Oborski said.
I posted some photos of the traffic on Twitter. One guy said "Yeah 30 minutes to move from 7th street to 2nd street on Lavaca at 6pm weekdays. Ridiculous."
"Traffic backs up and people try to squeeze through and all it does is cause problems," Oborski said. "By putting officers out there it just tries to restore some of the order." Detective Oborski says the intersection is one of several areas across Austin where the city's Transportation Department will pay officers overtime to get out there and help them with different mobility issues.
It's all part of "Vision Zero," the city's goal of having zero traffic fatalities.
"Speeding is a top priority, hands-free and distracted driving, 'block the box' at this intersection in particular," said Jennifer Duthie with Austin Transportation.
Duthie says as far as blocking the box... "Just one car getting in the middle of the intersection, and blocking movement from the other approach to the intersection can have repercussions up and down the corridor," she said.
"Just to be patient that's the number one thing. You will get your turn to go through the intersection. It may not seem like it but you're only contributing to the problem if you block the intersection," Oborski said. Earlier this week we saw several officers talking with drivers in front of City Hall and making sure cars are moving through smoothly.
Oborski says it's traffic enforcement 101. "Getting people to follow the traffic lights, getting them to close up and get as many cars into the legal spots where they're allowed to be in the lanes and things like that," he said.
When we were shooting the video we even saw a driver roll his window down and shout some obscenities at someone or something... Didn't get that on camera though.
"Officers will have to get on to some people and calm down situations but overall we see a lot less of it when we're present," he said.
Detective Oborski says they also work 7th and Red River occasionally. He says Slaughter and Congress is having major issues so they may start directing traffic there soon.
He says sometimes they'll issue citations but mostly this is just about mobility.