Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority

The first stretch of a toll lane project on MoPac opens Saturday more than a year behind schedule. The northbound, north end segment of the MoPac Express Lane will open from about 2222 to a mile before Parmer Lane. Tolls start at 25 cents and as traffic volume goes up, so will the tolls, with the goal of keeping that one lane flowing at a minimum speed of 45 miles per hour.

Devin Pedde

"A Prairie Home Companion" debuts its new season this weekend, just months after longtime host Garrison Keillor signed off from his last update from Lake Wobegon. In his place is a new host and an even bigger emphasis on the show’s music.

Musician Chris Thile is a four-time Grammy winner. He’s one of the world’s preeminent mandolin players and has received a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation. Now Thile has perhaps his biggest task ahead of him: taking the helm of one of the staple programs on public radio and convincing longtime listeners, it’s going to be okay.

KUT Weekend brings you our favorite stories from the KUT newsroom. Updated Fridays.

Alexandra Hart/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Anna Gatti served in World War II.

“Somebody said to me, ‘Why did you choose the navy and not the army,’” she says. “And the reason I did that, I was damned if I was gonna wear khaki underwear.”

Join KUT's Ben Philpott and The Texas Tribune's Jay Root for a live recording of their podcast, The Ticket 2016 – a look at presidential politics from a Texas perspective. Ben and Jay will kick off the evening with a review of the latest news from the campaign trail, including some debate comedy from our friends at 

Joy Diaz

From Texas Standard:

The Texas Standard explores what it means to be American as part of the NPR series "A Nation Engaged."

I'm the first child of an American father and a Mexican mother. I was born an American – but in Mexico.

Growing up, I rarely visited my American grandparents in New York City. So, culturally, every connection I had was to Mexico.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

This week, we launched a project that we expect to span several months, at least. It's called On My Block: Voices from 12th & Chicon. We've opened a temporary bureau at the intersection of 12th and Chicon streets in East Austin. We're there to tell the stories of how people are affected by the kind of rapid changes in the racial, socio-economic and cultural makeup of this historically black neighborhood.

So, yeah. This year has been a bummer for democracy. Like many of you, I’ve been avoiding political ads like I avoid I-35.

That is, until I saw a new ad from Gerald Daugherty, a moderate Republican running for re-election to the Travis County Commission’s Precinct Three seat. For those that don't know Daugherty, he's the lone conservative on the county commission. His main issue has been getting State Highway 45 Southwest built — which would connect FM 1626 in Hays County to MoPac in southwest Austin.

We might consider ourselves pretty savvy. We choose the "best" toothpaste, bottled water, or television set. We go to the movies we "want" to see, and listen to the music we like because it's "good".

What we might not take into consideration is how popularity fits into our value judgments about everything, from people and products to ideas and beliefs.

ColdTowne Theater has been a mainstay of the Austin comedy scene for a decade now, offering improv and comedy shows seven nights a week and also teaching the art of improv to hundreds of students. But it actually had its origins in New Orleans -- that's where ColdTowne was born, in 2005. They performed together in the Crescent City for a few months and then, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, several members fled New Orleans for Austin.

Here, ColdTowne was reborn in what had been a storage room. "The first student group was four folks that were taught in the back of dusty storage room that later became a theater," says managing director Erika McNichol. "It was a pretty humble beginning."

"And now we have hundreds of students at any given session," adds executive producer Dave Buckman. "A modest empire."

To celebrate ten years in Austin, Coldtowne will present special programming all next week, with a weekend-long celebration October 20 - 23 (individual tickets are available, as are badges that will get you into all the shows. There will be parties, roasts, awards, and reunion shows, in which ColdTowne alums from around the nation will return to celebrate. "It's amazing and sweet and beautiful," Buckman says, "being able to look back at ten years of... hundreds of people's accomplishments."

ColdTowne Theater's Ten Year Anniversary is October 20-23.


Texas leads the country in wind power generation. But solar power is starting to take off. As the industry grows, KUT’s Mose Buchele takes a look at what affect it might have on your electric bill.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Decades ago, the area around the intersection of 12th and Chicon streets was a central corridor in historically black East Austin, but over the years, drugs became a presence at the corner. Prostitution and other illegal activity happened in broad daylight there, and in 2012, Austin police took a new approach to the problem – what’s called a drug market intervention.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. /KUT News

The head of the largest Latino advocacy group in the U.S. says both major political parties in Texas dropped the ball on Latino voter outreach this year.

NIcholas Jon/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Dark money. Sounds evil, doesn't it?

For the past several years, the Texas Ethics Commission has been mired in an investigation of a group called Empower Texans, a right-leaning organization that pushes a limited government agenda and supports candidates who share its values but does not disclose its donors.

As the clock has ticked on a high-profile complaint against the group, concerns have grown over whether the Ethics Commission has what it takes to do its job of policing campaign money. 


John Harvey/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Texas has a record-breaking 15 million people registered to vote ahead of the November election, the Secretary of State’s office announced Thursday.

Texas has 15,015,700 voters registered according to a preliminary estimate — over 777,000 more than were registered in time for the March primaries. The deadline to register to vote was Tuesday.

Andreas Praefcke/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

From Texas Standard:

In Texas, tacos take priority. But what do you do when you can’t find a taco place? Here are a few taco joints to put in your taco emergency box.

Mando Rayo and Jarod Neece are two taco journalists traveling across Texas tasting every taco in sight for their new book, "The Tacos of Texas". They describe what is acceptable to do when you’re really desperate for a taco – turning to fast food tacos.


Erik Hersman/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Mallika Das, a U.S. citizen who was born in India, walked into a Williamson County polling place in 2014 eager to cast her ballot. 

Because she was not proficient in English and had found it difficult to vote in the past, Das brought her son, Saurabh, to help her. They both spoke Bengali, an Asian dialect. But when Saurabh told poll workers he was there to interpret the English ballot for his mother, the duo ran into an unexpected requirement.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

On Election Day four years ago, more than half of the Austin School Board of trustees were replaced.  

The school board had just approved a contract with IDEA public schools to run Allan Elementary. And community members were angry about the decision. They showed it at the ballot box—voting for Trustees Gina Hinojosa, Jayme Mathias and Ann Teich. Those trustees were elected on the promise of restoring community trust in the district—and improving community engagement. 

Has that happened?

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Mobile homes are often referred to as Austin’s most affordable housing. But mobile home parks don’t always offer amenities like green space for residents. One Austin City Council Member is hoping to change that.

Sam Kieschnick

Every year they invade Austin in loud swarms – eating, drinking, mating. No, it’s not the throngs of ACL or South by Southwest. We’re talking about the crickets.