Matthew Alvarez

Intern

Intern for KUT News

Jillian Schantz Patrick/KUT News

Update: Austin's latest surge of winter weather means postponement of lane restriping work on MoPac.

While lane closures continue, lane restriping  probably won't begin until after Friday's expected rains, and possible freezing precipitation on Saturday. See the tweet below:

Original story (Dec. 9): Construction work on MoPac is about to get underway. Overnight lane closures begin tonight as crews install construction signs in preparation for restriping portions of the road.

Austin History Center/Image No. PICA 07067

It was supposed to be a five-city tour of Texas.

Over the course of two days in November 1963, President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline were scheduled to visit San Antonio, Houston, Fort Worth and Dallas – ending with a stop in Austin. 

The Kennedys arrived in San Antonio Thursday, Nov. 21. From there, they traveled to Houston and before packing it in at the Texas Hotel in Fort Worth.

flickr.com/visualpanic

Think of fall’s turning leaves, and Texas may not be the first state to come to mind. But Austinites have seen their fair share of autumnal red and gold this year – thanks in large part to recent rains.

Jerry Brand, a molecular bioscience professor at the University of Texas, says the color changes in the leaves are due to a specific molecule called a carotenoid.  

“These color molecules called carotenoids can come in several different colors depending on the plant, depending on the light intensity they’ve been exposed to, and other environmental factors,” Brand says.

flickr.com/dno1967b

A “healthy food zone” ordinance could be in the works for areas surrounding Austin schools, parks, recreation centers, libraries and child care centers. And that could potentially mean a prohibition on new fast food restaurants in those areas.

In an effort to battle childhood obesity, the City of Austin and Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services have developed a Community Health Improvement Plan. One of the priorities in the plan is creating healthier environments for children. To that end, the plan has an objective of creating “healthy food zones” around specific areas by June 2016.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

As Formula 1 events enthrall Austin this weekend, tech companies are taking note of the innovative tools racers use.  

Besides entertaining car lovers across the globe, the technology used to design and manufacture F1 vehicles has seeped out into broader use.  Materials like carbon fiber have gained in popularity within recent years. And one big emerging product – 3-D printing – has been a part of Formula 1 for well over a decade.

Matthew Alvarez for KUT News

Austinites took to Congress Avenue today for the city’s annual Veterans Day Parade.

While residents stood and cheered, participants marched their way to the steps of the Texas Capitol for a ceremony honoring veterans lost over the years.

Standing out within the crowd was Peace Washington Costanzo, dressed as Lady Liberty. Costanzo says she’s been dressing in this outfit for the past two years, and feels the outfit was fitting for today’s parade.

Matthew Alvarez for KUT News

New unmanned aerial vehicles – better known as drones – could soon roam over the Arctic and Polar regions of the planet. And at the University of Texas, engineering students aren’t working on the planes themselves, but rather the autonomous flight capability of the unmanned aircraft.

UT grad students at the Cockrell School of Engineering recently headed out to an open field with a movable sensor – called a rover –and a small drone aircraft to perform a test flight. The drone was programmed with an operating system that charts a path for performing a task, also known as an algorithm. It instructed the drone to follow the rover, which acted as a moving target.

Jorge Corona for KUT News

Proposed changes to Auditorium Shores – and specifically, changes to the area available to dogs and their owners – have people talking.

As part of a $3.5 million renovation, the city’s proposed moving the off-leash dog area closer to the Lady Bird Lake shoreline – and away from joggers and cyclists using the trail. And while the change would shrink the current off-leash area, it would also restrict dogs entirely from the largest portion of Auditorium Shores – the so-called “Event Lawn.” (See a map of the proposed changes in the slideshow above.)

flickr.com/tarsands78

Beginning today, a total of 680 Austin apartment complexes – serving approximately 140,000 households – must offer recycling.

It's the second phase of the City of Austin’s Universal Recycling Ordinance, affecting businesses and multi-family residences, which kicks in today. Here’s who’s affected:

  • Apartments and condominiums with 50 or more dwelling units
  • Commercial offices that are 75,000 square feet or larger
notevenpast.org

It's no secret that traveling through Austin comes with a price: traffic.

However, the way Central Texans commute could change by the turn of the next decade as the region seeks a potential solution to traffic: urban rail.

Matthew Alvarez for KUT News

The Texas State Preservation Board voted Friday to move forward with a proposed Vietnam War veterans' monument at the Texas Capitol. The final design features American combat troops – and not a South Vietnamese solider as initially proposed.

In 2005, the Texas Legislature authorized a Vietnam War memorial for the Texas Capitol grounds. The proposed design featured several combat-weary soldiers – one of them a South Vietnamese solider. But the backers of the memorial, the Texas Capitol Vietnam Monument Committee, chose to remove that figure. The preservation board approved the final design Friday. 

Matthew Alvarez for KUT News

After a year-long closure, the chain-linked fence surrounding Wooldridge Park is down and the space is open to the public again.

The $306,800 renovation covered park improvements including drought-tolerant turf grass, a new irrigation system and electrical upgrades including high-efficiency LED light fixtures.

Matthew Alvarez for KUT News

The City of Austin unveiled its newest addition to the Austin Police Department today: the Eurocopter AS350 B3e helicopter.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo characterized the chopper as a good start: He argued Austin should have three of the aircraft.