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From Texas Standard:

There's something about toll roads that just isn't very fun. It's probably that part where you have to pay to drive on them. Of course, we help pay for the roads we drive on through taxes and other fees – but it's more in your face when you roll through the toll plaza.

At least one Texas lawmaker is urging the state to pump the breaks.


Pexels (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Police in Van Zandt County, Texas, are offering a reward to find the suspected shooter of a 39-year-old man who authorities believe was shot as the result of a road rage incident. This report echoes a series of stories that have been making headlines across the state: from the Marine who shot a student in Denton because she refused his advances, to the viral video of two Austin motorists swinging bats and two-by-fours at each other.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

It’s been just over a year since the City of Austin’s hands-free ordinance went into effect and, in 2015, Austin Police officers cited more than 5,000 drivers in Austin for using devices while behind the wheel.

While that number may seem steep to some, it’s just the start, as APD plans to diversify enforcement efforts and work to integrate hand-held enforcement efforts into the city’s Vision Zero plan.

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: The Texas Transportation Commission unveiled a$1.3 billion plan Wednesday targeted at reducing traffic congestion on some of the most clogged Texas roadways.

The plan calls for the Texas Department of Transportation to direct funds for 14 roadway projects specifically designed to relieve gridlock around the state's five largest cities: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Fort Worth.

Council Hears First Proposals for Vision Zero Plan

Dec 8, 2015
Callie Hernandez/KUT News

This year, Austin has seen more traffic deaths than any other year on record, with 92 people having died on the roadways in 2015 so far.

Last November, the Austin City Council commissioned the Vision Zero Task Force to find solutions for the perennial problem of traffic deaths, and Tuesday the task force outlined a draft of its proposals to the Austin City Council.

KUT News

Employees of a Colorado-based non-profit will soon move to Austin to begin studying the city’s various commuting woes as part of a partnership finalized Thursday.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Here’s a comforting thought: During your morning commute, there’s always one City of Austin employee watching you. Well, watching your car, at least, and the traffic you may or may not be stuck in.

Turns out, that employee may be getting some company in the future, as the city is now considering adding more people to its so-called Transportation Management Center.


I-35 in Austin Named the Most Congested Roadway in Texas

Nov 10, 2015
Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Austin drivers who complain about Interstate Highway 35 have been validated.

A new report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute named the stretch of I-35 between U.S. 290 N and SH 71 as the most congested roadway in Texas.

Image via Flickr/Juan Alvarez (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Earlier this year Pastor Gonzalez Sosa was pulled over for speeding in Caldwell County. Dash-cam audio from that traffic stop indicates both drivers spoke in Spanish during the stop.

Sosa was issued a citation, but his race was recorded as white.

 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr/KUT

Late last week, the number of traffic fatalities surpassed the total number of fatalities on Austin roads in all of last year. Currently, there have been 65 deaths with five months left in the year, compared to 63 in all of 2014. The previous peak for traffic fatalities over last few decades was in 2012, when the city saw 78 road deaths, but, this year, Austin is on track to exceed 100 deaths before the end of the year.

Below, you can view a map of the traffic deaths so far this year.

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. 

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.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Tens of thousands of bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts have descended upon Austin for this year's Republic of Texas Biker Rally, and tonight they'll swarm downtown for a procession that will shut down 54 square blocks.

The bikers will ride along a nearly ten-mile parade route stretching from the Travis County Expo Center all the way to the intersection of Congress and Cesar Chavez. The bikers at the end of the procession won't leave the Expo Center until the first bikers have already arrived at the end of the route.

Terrence Henry/KUT News

It’s one of the biggest bottlenecks in town, a place where cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians all squeeze into just four travel lanes, and where the University of Texas begins to merge with downtown – a street aptly named "The Drag."

flickr.com/photos/mrlaugh

Austin's downtown traffic flow will change starting next month. The City of Austin is converting Brazos Street from one way to a two way street between East Cesar Chavez and East Sixth streets. 

Austin Transportation Department Director Rob Spillar says a number of cities have gone through this process to slow traffic.

Via Mark Stevens, flickr.com/photos/14723335@N05/

From the Austin Monitor:

Plans to convert downtown’s Seventh, Eighth, Brazos and Colorado streets from one-way to two-way streets are underway.

On Monday, City Council’s Comprehensive Planning and Transportation Committee heard a presentation on a timeline for the change from acting Transportation Department Assistant Director Jim Dale.

“A lot of cities have gone through this process, of being two-way initially, then going to one-way to help move capacity to move a lot more vehicles,” said Dale. “But as we start to look at the pedestrian realm and looking at the complete streets … the two-way conversion does lend itself to a more pedestrian-friendly environment, with a tendency to slow down traffic.”

Google Maps

Millions of Texans are taking to the road and skies this year for Thanksgiving travel, and for the first time, Austinites will have some new data to help them decide when to head out on the highway. They'll need it, because Austin has the second biggest increase in traffic during Thanksgiving week in the entire country, according to Google.

After crunching the numbers from their mapping data from the last few years, Google Maps has some advice for you: Leave. Now. Before it's too late. 

Austin Monitor

From The Austin Monitor:

New figures released by the Texas Department of Transportation quantify what anyone who drives in the Austin area instinctively knows – traffic congestion on several local roads and highways is as bad as anywhere in the state and getting worse.

One stretch, Interstate 35 through downtown between the U.S. 290 intersection and Lady Bird Lake, ranks as the second-most congested roadway segment in the entire state, and ranks first in freight-related congestion. Ten other Austin-area roadways are among the worst 100 in the state.

TxDOT recently released the 2014 Most Congested Roadways in Texas, with numbers updated from 2013. The data comes from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, which uses roadway inventory and traffic volume information from TxDOT along with speed data from INRIX, a private-sector source of traffic data. The complete list is available on the TxDOT website.

From The Texas Tribune:

Only six out of every 100 Texans rely on public transportation as their primary means of transportation, and less than half of Texans believe it reduces congestion, according to a new poll released Thursday.

The survey of more than 5,000 Texans was conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute in May to study how Texans get around and their views on transportation funding. 

Ninety-one percent of Texans use a personal automobile as their primary means of transportation, followed by 6 percent who rely on public transportation, according to the poll. Ninety percent of respondents said they own or lease a personal vehicle. Minorities and those with an annual household income of less than $25,000 rely most heavily on public transportation, researchers found.

Spencer Selvidge/KUT News

Austin's "MetroRapid" buses are larger and, let's be honest, nicer than your typical bus. They've got more doors, for one, which makes for faster loading and unloading. You can look up when the next one's going to arrive on your smartphone. They have Wi-Fi, too. In January, the first line debuted, the 801, running up and down North Lamar and Congress. This week, the second one started up, the 803, going from the Domain down Burnet, through downtown and down South Lamar. 

The Rapid bus system is the first major transit project in Austin since the troubled rollout of the MetroRail red line several years ago.* That project was late, over budget and struggled to attract riders.

The rapid buses, however, started on time and under budget. But six months after the launch of the first rapid line, ridership in its corridor is down 16 percent from two years ago during the same period. (You can view the ridership numbers obtained by KUT below.)

"We certainly didn't want that to happen. We hoped that wouldn’t happen. But it did happen," says Todd Hemingson, Vice President of strategic planning and development with Capital Metro.

So why, after premiering shiny new buses with plenty of features, did ridership go down in the corridor?

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