Traffic, public transit, congestion, road construction and closures, I-35, MoPac, US 290, US 183, Ben White Blvd, and policy and planning issues related to transportation and mobility in Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson.

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.

Sarah Jasmine Montgomery for KUT

The City of Austin earned a gold-level designation this week from one of the nation's leading cycling advocacy groups, the League of American Bicyclists. That's one level below the highest designation of platinum.

KUT's Nathan Bernier asks cycling journalist Ian Dille what the city has done to earn the praise and what more it can do to encourage cycling as an alternate way of getting around.

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.

Alfredo Mendez [CC BY-SA 4.0]/flickr

From the Austin Monitor: In the midst of a heated debate about requirements for fingerprint background checks and fees for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft, the City Council Mobility Committee has tossed a slew of additional proposals into the pot.

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

Nov 10, 2015
Shelby Knowles/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.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Wednesday 9:08 a.m. The FAA has reopened the top level of its permanent air traffic control tower at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. This allowed airport officials to open the second runway. The radar at the base of the tower still isn't working. You should still check with your airline before heading to the airport. 

EarlierAustin-Bergstrom International Airport will be down to one runway likely until the end of the week, and even then, it could take a while longer before flight schedules return to normal.

ABIA's air traffic control tower flooded last week after almost 15 inches of rain fell on the airport. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials cut electricity to the tower to evaluate the damage and clean-up. 

Shelby Knowles/Texas Tribune

As cities worldwide struggle to balance the fast growth of vehicle-for-hire apps with traditional taxi services, three Texas cities are providing an unexpected test of where the regulatory breaking point lies for Uber and Lyft. 

Houston, San Antonio and Austin currently take different approaches to a key regulatory issue: whether vehicle-for-hire app drivers must undergo fingerprint background checks.

KUT News

The ride-hailing operator Uber offered a case study on what it means to ride and drive using their app here in Austin. The information comes amid City Council discussion of the disclosure requirements for companies like Uber.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Starting this week, one of Austin’s most successful transportation programs will be more accessible to low-income Austinites. The B-cycle bike share program started a year and half ago. There’s been more than a quarter of a million bike trips on the system since, traveling more than 700,000 miles. Now, the company’s rolling out three new stations and new membership levels designed to include low-income residents.

There’s several membership options for the bike share system – locals can buy an annual one for $80 that gives them unlimited free trips under thirty minutes every year. And starting this week, any Austin resident making $25,000 or less a year can sign up for a membership that only costs $5 annually. 

KUT News

It’s been over a year since the ride-on-demand companies Uber and Lyft began operating in Austin. But it hasn’t yet been a full year yet since the companies were legally allowed to operate in Austin by the city under a pilot program. Extending that agreement could make for a bumpy road now that Uber has filed suit against the City of Austin and Texas Attorney General.

From the Texas Standard.

As recently as 1989 there were almost 1,300 metal truss bridges in the state. Now, we’re down to around 130 — just 10 percent of what we had 25 years ago.

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.

Flickr/ Eirik Johan Skeie (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Sarah Millender wasn’t too concerned about her safety when she signed up as a driver four months ago. Today, she spends around 50 hours a week in her car, working full time for both Uber and Lyft. As she begins her Saturday night shift, she picks up a couple headed to dinner. They make small talk, and eventually ask Millender what it’s like being a female driver.

As she begins to tell the couple about her less-than-positive encounters, she mentions that she “didn’t realize how much the comments would get to [her].”

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? 

CTRMA Announces MoPac Project Delay, Again

Jul 30, 2015
MoPac Improvement Project

From our city reporting partner, the Austin Monitor: Mike Heiligenstein, the executive director for the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, told board members Wednesday that the MoPac Improvement Project is expected to be fully operational sometime in the second half of 2016, a far cry from its originally stated Sept. 17, 2015, completion date.

Lead contractor CH2M Hill is responsible for the design and construction of CTRMA’s express lane project, which affects MoPac from Cesar Chavez Street to Parmer Lane. But the originally budgeted $200 million proposal has seen numerous delays because of labor shortages, drilling problems, weather issues, continual run-ins with unidentified utility infrastructure and debatably differing site conditions than those originally agreed upon, Heiligenstein said.

If you drive a car in Texas, every year you need to do two things: get your vehicle inspected and renew its registration. Until this year, those were two separate stickers on your windshield.

But that’s changing now – which means a few new steps you'll want to be aware of.

Starting this year, the two stickers on your windshield are becoming one. Now Texans will get their vehicles inspected before renewing their registration, and then get just one sticker for both when they’re done.

It’s a big change that will eventually affect nearly every vehicle in the state. And it can be kind of confusing.

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. 

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.

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?

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.