By CASSIE MCKEE
Four Points News
The owner of the Oasis Texas development on Lake Travis is working to make some changes to prevent what a local neighborhood group described as an eminent pedestrian tragedy.
Longtime Comanche Trail resident Carolyn Wilsford often drives by the Oasis around dusk after she returns from sailing on Lake Travis. She said she began noticing pedestrians being nearly hit by cars as they crossed the busy street from the parking lot to go to the Oasis shops and restaurants.
“I have seen near misses and have noticed that there is a considerable amount of confusion when masses of people are trying to get to their cars from the Oasis,” Wilsford said. “During the summer and especially around dusk after the sun has set, golf carts loaded with people are trying to cross the road, cars are trying to turn in and out of the parking lot, people are walking on the grass and road taking the shortest distance to get across the road at night with no lights.”
She became so concerned that she joined the board of the Comanche Trail Community Association to try to make some changes.
After bringing the matter to the attention of Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea, Wilsford met with representatives from the Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources Division. In July, David Greear, TNR engineering division manager sent a letter to Andrew Rice, director of the property owners association and a representative of Oasis Texas, outlining some suggested improvements.
“Some very obvious improvements were identified that could improve the safety of pedestrians and vehicles accessing your property as well as reduce some of your liability,” Greear wrote in the letter. “Some of the improvements can be accomplished by Travis County, but other identified improvements would be your responsibility.”
Those recommended improvements include:
- Installing fencing or landscaping to prevent/deter pedestrians from crossing Comanche Trail on the west side of the intersection and cutting across where there are no sidewalks,
- Trimming the canopy of the trees in the median of Comanche Trail up to 7-feet high,
- Overhead lighting for the existing crosswalk,
- Construct covered landing structures to give a clear message to pedestrians that this is the location to cross.
Rice said after being contacted about the issue, he pro-actively took steps to improve pedestrian safety.
“We repainted the faded crosswalk to add visibility and indicate the appropriate crossing of Comanche Trail,” Rice said. “We had found that some pedestrians had been crossing the street further to the west where there is no crosswalk and shortcutting through grass and not along intended sidewalks.”
Therefore, they erected barriers and added additional “please use crosswalk” signage on both sides of the street and parking lot to further encourage the use of the designated crosswalk.
In addition, Rice said his landscape team trimmed the tree canopy for trees located within the median, as was requested by the county. He said more changes are planned for this year.
Future plans will include additional vegetation to act as a more aesthetically pleasing barrier to encourage patrons to cross at crosswalk,” Rice said. “This work will commence in early 2017 upon completion of the loading dock construction currently underway directly to the west of the crosswalk, to avoid any interference.”
Rice said the county has also been a great help and cleared the brush back alongside Comanche Trail which has helped vehicular visibility.
“I believe they have also repainted the crosswalk to their specifications some time after we took the liberty of painting it,” Rice said. “Of course, the street itself is under the county’s domain and we will support all of their efforts to improve visibility, add any traffic signal/signage, etc., for the benefit of all pedestrians.”
Wilsford said she would like to see more done.
“Our Comanche Trail Community Association is extremely concerned that a pedestrian tragedy is eminent at the crosswalk In front of Oasis Texas,” Wilsford said. “A serious accident or fatally is likely to occur if we do not implement immediate steps to avoid such a tragedy.”
She said the board’s top three priorities are speed reduction via speed bumps or slower posted speeds, a visual alert system such as flashing yellow lights, and fencing to force pedestrians to only cross at the crosswalks.
“Videos are going to be our next plan,” Wilsford said. “We’ve lived here for 27 years and we’re just trying to alleviate a fatality.”