Terrence Henry

Senior Reporter, StateImpact Texas

Terrence Henry is a Senior Reporter at KUT and StateImpact Texas. He has worked as an editor, writer and web producer for The Washington Post and The Atlantic. He has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Brigham Young University.

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Transportation
12:26 pm
Mon August 3, 2015

Have Lyft and Uber Made Traffic in Austin Worse? The City Wants to Find Out

Transportation networking apps Uber and Lyft both have higher rates in Austin, but the companies could release their closely held data to the city, allowing for a closer look at possible traffic impacts of the services.
Photo Illustration by Todd Wiseman/TexasTribune

This year, the city allowed hundreds of thousands of new car trips when it legalized the ride service companies Lyft and Uber.

But, while these companies may be filling in a gap in transportation options, are they making traffic better or worse in Austin? And does the demand for ride services mean higher prices here than elsewhere in the country? 

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Transportation
3:29 pm
Fri July 31, 2015

What 'Sharing the Road' Means for Cyclists and Drivers in Texas

Cyclists may have their own lanes in certain stretches of Austin roads, but they also have the right to ride in the center of lanes in some cases.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Austin's roads are busier than ever, and there’s more than just cars and trucks on them. As more and more Austinites choose bikes to get around, where exactly are they allowed to ride?

It can be a little confusing knowing where it’s okay to ride your bike. For instance, you’re not supposed to ride on the sidewalk in parts of downtown Austin. But when it comes to the road? Well, a bike is welcome pretty much everywhere. It’s right there in the Texas Transportation Code.

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Austin
2:30 pm
Thu July 30, 2015

Why Plans to Move Austin's Monk Parakeets Could Get Nest-y

Janet Reed of Travis Audubon at the Whitaker Intramural Fields in Central Austin, home to hundreds of monk parakeets. Reed says plans to move the birds in order to refurbish the fields may not work.
Terrence Henry/KUT

Austin’s well-known as the Live Music Capital of the World, but it’s also becoming known as a place that’s running out of room. There's one neighborhood in town where old-time residents are probably going to be moved out in order to make way for new development. And it’s ruffling some feathers.

We're talking, of course, about monk parakeets. In particular, the two hundred of them that live at the University of Texas at Austin Whitaker Intramural Fields, in Central Austin on Guadalupe. Head there at dusk, and you'll see not just soccer or lacrosse scrimmages, but you'll see hundreds, if not thousands, of birds. 

And the most colorful and charismatic of them are the monk parakeets. But soon they're likely going to have to move out of their longtime home. 

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Austin
3:51 pm
Mon July 20, 2015

Austin's 'Most Invasive Species' Isn't the One You Might Think

As Austin continues to grow at a rapid pace, plenty of anecdotal blame has fallen on people moving here from California.
hermitsmoores/flickr

Central Texas is under attack. No, not Jade Helm, or even the summer swarms of mosquitoes. We’re talking about an invasive species. Zebra Mussels? Nope. Fire ants? Try again. We're talking about an even more supposed "invasive" species: Californians.

They arrive with their telltale license plates, often heading straight to In-N-Out Burger and Trader Joe's. As Austin continues to grow at a rapid pace, plenty of anecdotal blame has fallen on people moving here from California. Except … they’re not?

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Transportation
8:10 am
Fri July 17, 2015

What Can Austin Do to Stop Road Deaths?

Tina-Michelle Pittsley had plans to start her own business, get married and start a family. One crash changed everything.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Austin’s roads are more dangerous than ever. The rate of fatal car crashes is nearly double what it’s been in previous years. It’s only July, and soon the city will have more traffic fatalities so far this year than we did during all of last year. These statistics alone paint a grim picture of road safety in Austin. 

But there's also a human face and voice behind each of these numbers. People like Tina-Michelle Pittsley, the victim of a near-fatal crash in Austin. 

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Austin
4:48 pm
Fri July 10, 2015

Austin Releases 'Action Plan' in Response to Zucker Report

The city released an action plan Friday in response to an outside review of its planning departments.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

If you’ve ever had a house or business project held up by the city’s convoluted permitting process, there may be hope for improvements ahead.

Today the city released an action plan in response to an outside review (done by California-based Zucker Systems) of its planning departments. That review found Austin’s code and regulations lacking, well below the standard set by other cities.

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Transportation
4:36 pm
Fri July 10, 2015

Exit Changes Come to MoPac on Monday

MoPac Improvement Project

Big changes lie ahead for the MoPac Expressway as a toll lane is added in each direction. And those changes will affect drivers before the new lanes are ready. Here's what you'll need to know so you don’t miss your exit.

The MoPac Improvement project has reached the point where workers need to start digging for an underpass entrance and exit to and from downtown. That means drivers heading southbound on the highway will need to be ready for some significant changes to exits that start Monday.

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Transportation
1:01 pm
Thu July 9, 2015

Austin Has a Sidewalk Problem. What Can the City Do To Fix It?

Austin is missing half of the sidewalks it's supposed to have, and many sidewalks are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Terrence Henry/KUT

While plenty of people are moving to Austin for the jobs, the outdoors and the lifestyle, the city is still missing something pretty important: sidewalks. Austin has only half of the sidewalks it's supposed to, and it will be a long time before it can fill in those gaps.

We've put together this explainer on Austin's sidewalk situation.

Wait, did I hear that right? Austin is missing half of its sidewalks?

Yes — there are a little more than 2,200 miles of sidewalks absent in the city, roughly half of the sidewalks the city is supposed to have. And many sidewalks are not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities (ADA) act. 

At the current rate of city funding, how long will it take to fully build out Austin’s sidewalks?

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Transportation
10:43 am
Mon June 29, 2015

More Rain Means More Potholes on Austin Streets

Cyclists and motorists beware: The amount of potholes on Austin's roads has nearly doubled, thanks to all the rain, and the traffic.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The drenching rains that have fallen on Austin this year have provided sizable benefits: Reservoirs are recovering, lawns are green, and this summer will be cooler as a result. (Maybe a little more humid, too.)

But there are, of course, downsides to the rain, most notably the serious damage to lives and property from flooding. Austin’s infrastructure is taking a hit, too, and you don’t have to go far to find it. It’s right underneath you. 

Yes, we’re talking about potholes. Those holes in the road form thanks to two things: water and traffic, both of which Austin has plenty of lately.

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Austin
5:00 am
Thu June 25, 2015

National Debate Has Austin Stores Asking: Should We Stop Selling Confederate Flags?

The owner of Banana Bay Tactical says they will continue to sell Confederate flag merchandise for now.
Terrence Henry/KUT

After a tragic shooting at a historical black church in Charleston, South Carolina this month, there’s been a growing national conversation on whether or not to display or sell symbols of the Confederacy.

National retailers Walmart, Amazon and eBay have all announced they will stop selling Confederate battle flag merchandise. Here in Austin, while some stores are also ending sales of Confederate flags and merchandise, others say they will continue to sell the products. 

"Took mine down, and they're out of here," says Ed Hall, owner of The Quonset Hut, a military surplus store just north of the University of Texas at Austin campus. 

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Transportation
3:22 pm
Wed June 24, 2015

Austin's 'Dillo Shuttle Returns — Sort Of

Ridescout is bringing back a derivation of the 'Dillo, a downtown circulator that ran from the 1970s until 2009.
YouTube

Remember the ‘Dillo? No, not the legendary music venue The Armadillo. We’re talking about Austin’s free trolley system that shut down in 2009. There were several routes that took people around downtown for free, starting in the eighties, until they went away a few years ago. 

Now, the ‘Dillo is making a comeback.

Kind of.

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Austin Police
11:06 am
Fri June 19, 2015

Austin Police Adding to DWI Enforcement Unit

Commander Art Fortune is adding officers to APD's DWI enforcement team.
Credit Miguel Gutierrez Jr for KUT News

Austin has seen a rise in traffic fatalities this year, with nearly double the number of deaths so far in 2015 as occurred during the same period last year. Many of the crashes have involved impaired driving, and the Austin Police Department is stepping up their enforcement in response.

For the last 17 years, the Austin Police Department has used a dedicated DWI enforcement team of a dozen police officers to go after drunk drivers. They help patrol officers respond to DWI arrests and do blood alcohol tests, but the department hasn’t staffed the unit seven days a week. 

Right now, the unit only works Tuesday through Saturday, even though DWI fatality crashes occur every night of the week, especially on Sundays. Of the nearly fifty traffic fatalities so far this year, 18 occurred on Sunday and Monday. 

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Austin
11:15 am
Thu June 11, 2015

City Looks to Two-Way Streets, Enhanced Signal Timing to Slow Down Traffic Woes

The City of Austin has already converted parts of Brazos Street from a one-way street to a two-way.
mrlaugh/flickr

There are a couple of new trends in Austin transportation that will change the pace, and on some streets the direction, of traffic.

In an effort to make downtown streets safer and more attractive to Austinites on foot or on bike, the city has been converting certain one-way streets downtown into two-way streets. And the city is also working on some upgrades to traffic signal systems, with a goal of alleviating some of the red light frustrations drivers face downtown. 

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Austin
2:54 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Tough Sell or Vital Investment? A Look at Travis County's $300 Million Courthouse

A rendering of the concept for a new 14-story Travis County Family and Civil Courthouse.
Travis County Commissioner's Court

This November’s election will be here before we know it, and while there aren’t many high-profile races or hot-button issues in the off-year election, there is one big-ticket item on the ballot: a nearly $300 million bond to build a new Travis County Civil and Family courthouse.

While nearly everyone seems to agree that Travis County needs a new courthouse – the existing Civil and Family Courthouse on Guadalupe Street was built in 1931, when Travis County had just 77,000 residents – some are concerned about the price tag for building a new one.

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Austin
2:53 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Starting Today, Four Cap Metro Bus Routes Will Run More Frequently

Some changes are coming to a few of the city’s bus routes this week. In an attempt to increase ridership, four Capital Metro bus routes will be running more often.

“We’re going to be upgrading five of the busiest routes in our whole system. And four of those will run every 15 minutes or better across the weekday,” says Todd Hemingson of Cap Metro.

Of the four routes that will run more often, the longest is Number 7, which runs from Heritage Hills to Dove Springs. Hemingson says the goal of the added frequency is to begin creating a network of buses in town that run regularly enough that you can conveniently get around town without having to wait for a bus or transfer for more than seven minutes.

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Transportation
7:00 am
Fri May 15, 2015

How to Make Texas a More Bike-Friendly State

A cyclist rides on a protected bikeway in downtown Austin.
Sarah Jasmine Montgomery/KUT News

Today is 'Bike to Work Day' in Austin (and across the country), with more than two dozen “fueling stations” offering free snacks and drinks to Austinites on two wheels. While the percentage of Austinites who commute by bike is growing, it still remains low relative to peer cities outside of Texas. On average, only two percent of people in Austin regularly use a bike to get to work, though that percentage can be much higher in parts of the urban core. 

Austin ranks 91st on a list of 154 cities nationwide for bikeability according to Walk Score, while the state of Texas is in the bottom half of states for bike-friendliness, according to the League of American Bicyclists. The state ranks 30th, up a few places from last year. While Texas has made some incremental improvements in cycling-friendliness, like a 'share the road' campaign and other safety improvements, there’s a long way for the Lone Star State to go.

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Transportation
12:05 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

How New Toll Roads in Austin Also Mean Better Biking and Walking

A new hike-and-bike bridge will connect into a shared use path, allowing people on foot or on bikes to safely cross over a railroad track below.
Courtesy HNTB Corporation

Austin can sometimes feel like one giant construction zone these days.

Road projects have been adding to the noise and delays, but there’s a hidden benefit to all that new pavement — many of the new road projects and highway dollars in town also mean improvements for Austinites getting around on bikes and on foot.

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Transportation
2:43 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Austin's Transportation Future: A Conversation With Anthony Foxx

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
Credit DOT

Austin suffers from plenty of traffic congestion, but the city is hardly alone there. Across the country, cities are having to confront the question of how to move more and more people around in a limited amount of space. On Friday, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx came to Austin to discuss transportation issues and what the city can learn from others. 

His visit brought him to the University of Texas at Austin's Center for Transportation Research, where he got to see research in traffic modeling and connected vehicle technology. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently released 'Beyond Traffic,' a 30-year plan on the future of transportation in the country. "It looks at long-term trends and begins to shape the types of choices we have ahead of us," Foxx says. "And I came here today to see what kind of work is being done on research and innovation in transportation that's consistent with our plan." 

We spoke for a few minutes on Austin's traffic issues, transportation innovation, and difficulties consistently funding infrastructure and maintenance of the roads we already have. 

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Transportation
8:30 am
Thu April 23, 2015

More Lanes Are Coming to Austin's Highways, But They Won't Be Free

The MoPac Improvement Project will add one tolled lane in each direction to North MoPac. The lane will be free for transit.
Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT News

KUT and our city hall reporting partner the Austin Monitor are looking at needs that have typically been paid for by the state, but have become local responsibilities. Some call them unfunded mandates. KUT News and the Austin Monitor will look at key examples of that interaction in our series, “The Buck Starts Here.”  Today, we take on Austin’s highways. You can read Tyler Whitson's companion piece over at the Austin Monitor.

We hear it all the time: Austin’s growing too fast, and we don’t have enough housing or roads for the people already here, not to mention the million more people that will be in the region in a little over a decade. To better accommodate an influx of people and cars, new additions are being planned for several of the region’s major highways. 

But there’s no such thing as a free ride on most of these new lanes, and to understand why, it helps to do a little time traveling.

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Transportation
8:17 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Why Lyft and Uber Are Fighting to Keep Their Data Secret

A Lyft driver in the company's home base of San Francisco. The City of Austin is asking the state Attorney General to block the release of Lyft and Uber's trip data.
Raido Kalma/flickr

It's been almost a year since new ride services like Lyft and Uber have been up and running in Austin. At first Lyft and Uber were operating illegally, but under a temporary ordinance approved by City Council in October, those companies are now legal in town. Hailing a Lyft or Uber as a passenger has never been easier in Austin. But some of the information these companies are providing to the city as part of their interim agreement is proving harder to flag down. 

Lyft and Uber collect information on where all riders are being picked up and dropped, how much trips cost, how long trips are, and when they're seeing peak demand. They provide that data (stripped of user identification) to the city on a quarterly basis, "in order to help the City evaluate the role of TNCs [Transportation Network Companies] to address transportation issues, such as drunk driving and underserved community needs," according to the interim ordinance.

But the city is fighting on Uber and Lyft's behalf after KUT submitted an open records request to obtain the quarterly reports.

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