Friday morning the northbound lanes of I-35 were closed and traffic diverted to the frontage lanes.
A man, who has not yet been identified, was hit and killed while trying to cross the interstate.
It happened around 6:30 in the construction zone between the Hwy 290 flyover and the St John’s overpass. “Of course at this time of day its night so the individual was hard to see,” said APD Spokesperson Sgt. David Daniels.
At this time no charges have been filed against the driver who hit the man. “Still part of the investigation, they are trying to determine the direction he was traveling,” said Sgt. Daniels.
By mid-morning the interstate was reopened.
The incident is near the spot where in April another pedestrian was hit and killed. Police records show that case and the one Friday morning represent a spike in the number of fatal collisions this year.
Between January and September; 23 people were killed crossing an Austin roadway.
That’s 10 more than during the same period of time last year. 16 of the 23 cases involved people crossing where it’s not allowed. There are also cases where vehicles have jumped curbs and even hit people while in cross walks.
Debbie Guevara has had her own close calls while at the intersection I-35 and 51st. Street. Dangerous dashes like one captured by a TX DOT camera in 2016 she has seen firsthand.
As to why it’s done; Debbie said she has never got a rational answer. “They’re just zoned out most of the time. Most of the time zoned out, they don’t watch where they are going, the drivers or the walkers,” said Guevara.
Austin police and TX DOT have launched several pedestrian-safety initiatives. They’ve handed out reflective gear and dispatch priority calls to patrol units when people are spotted along the interstate.
“I encourage drivers, if you see anyone on the highway, and they are trying to cross, that is a 911 call, that’s not a 311 call. Call the police immediately, officers will respond because we are trying to save a life, and no driver should have to live with the fact they hit somebody,” said Sgt. Daniels.