Austin Public Works to service 777 roads by next September

Rachel Freeman

Austin, prepare your engines for new seal-coated, overlaid, slurry-sealed, crack-sealed and fog-sealed roads. 

The 2016 service plan overview of street preventative maintenance, released by the Austin Public Works department earlier this month, details the 777 road projects — four of which will affect campus streets — scheduled for completion by next September. The Public Works department currently has $52.7 million in available funding, up $4.7 million from last year.

The construction affecting the University is focused on the northwestern part of campus. John Gilbert, current Whitis Court resident and undeclared sophomore, said he is concerned on how seal coating on the road outside his dorm may affect his ability to get around. Specific project start and end dates have not yet been released, and all construction is subject to change due to weather conditions. 

“If the maintenance ends up being while school is in session, I’m worried about the noise and finding a way to get to class,” Gilbert said. “It’ll be annoying having to deal with that. But, if the City government thinks this needs to be done, then I guess it needs to be done.”

A hot overlay of asphaltic concrete is planned to be set in on 27th Street between Wichita Street and Speedway, on Speedway between 27th Street and San Jacinto Boulevard and on University Avenue between 30th Street and Speedway. A seal coat will be sprayed on Whitis Avenue between Dean Keeton Street and 29th Street. In part of the plan, other streets also will receive slurry seals, crack seals and fog seals. All of these seals and overlays are preventative measures intended to prolong the life of the street, according to the service plan overview.

Biomedical engineering freshman Erin Higgins said she is happy to see the government taking preventative initiatives. 

“It sounds great; it’ll save time and money,” Higgins said. “Preventative measures and preventive strikes are always a good thing.”

In the City’s Proposed Budget Volume One, public works director Howard Lazarus said that though the department has faced challenges in fulfilling its duties to the city, they have found creative solutions.

“Service delivery in these areas are challenged by an aging and expanding roadway infrastructure, continued growth of the city of Austin’s geographic area and uncertainties in the costs of materials,” Lazarus said. “PWD will continue to implement innovative and sustainable strategies to address the City’s needs for mobility, safety, and facilities development.”