New Cesar Chavez stoplight timing shaves minutes off commute
This year some Downtown Austin commuters are seeing improvements in rush hour traffic. The Austin Transportation Department says they've re-timed all of the stoplights on Cesar Chavez Street from MoPac to I-35. Their own data shows it's working, but some drivers say they can hardly tell a difference.
When the MoPac Express lanes opened last fall one unintended consequence was a brutal backup of people trying to get to the express lane from Cesar Chavez Street.
"The past year it's just been incredibly insane. It's super packed. Especially at this hour," says commuter Catherine Rocha who's lived in Austin for nearly 30 years.
The traffic jam was so terrible at the end of 2017 that a downtown business hired a constable to direct traffic and help their employees get out of the parking garage.
Tuesday traffic was still crawling downtown, but the Austin Transportation Department says re-timing traffic lights has reduced rush hour travel times 20-30 percent. However, some drivers are skeptical.
"I haven't noticed any change, but it's really bumper-to-bumper all the time," adds Rocha.
"I feel like it's the same. I don't think it's changed at all," says Austin driver Nathan Wilson.
The actual time shaved off a westbound Cesar Chavez commute to MoPac is 2 minutes. Eastbound Cesar Chavez to I-35 is now faster by about five minutes.
"With the city growing how it is it definitely needs to be worked on more," says Wilson.
As more people flock to Austin and take jobs downtown any decrease in travel time is a win for mobility. Still, the Austin Transportation Department is encouraging travelers to consider alternate routes and schedules to avoid rush hour. ATD says their work isn't done. They will continue monitoring traffic flow on Cesar Chavez and keep making changes that they think will get people moving faster.