transportation

Terrence Henry/KUT News

There are a lot more options for getting around Austin these days other than driving your own car, and even more apps and technology to help you navigate those options. But some of the big investors in this new technology may surprise you. They aren't just coming from Silicon Valley — Detroit and others in the auto industry are getting in on the action as well.

Take the Austin-based RideScout, for example. "RideScout is essentially the Kayak of ground transportation," says Joseph Kopser, RideScout CEO. Kopser is a veteran who came to SXSW a few years back with an idea: What if you could take something like transportation and mobility, and make it as easy as booking a flight or hotel room?

Erroneous Toll Bills Fuel Criticism at TxDOT Hearing

Feb 11, 2015
Bill Jacobus/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Approximately 30,000 Texas drivers with valid TxTag accounts erroneously received bills in the mail for using the state’s toll roads, officials with the Texas Department of Transportation and Xerox told state senators Wednesday during a tense hearing.

“I thought it was going to be a large number, but I didn’t think it would be so large,” state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said a a Senate Transportation Committee hearing. TxDOT officials said they plan to refund all of the people who were erroneously charged, but they acknowledged there could be others who might not know they were incorrectly charged.

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.”

Spencer Selvidge/KUT News

Disclosure: Project Connect and Capital Metro have been supporters of KUT.

Fifteen years from now, someone in Austin is going to get to say, "I told you so."

If voters approve a starter light rail proposal next week and it's built, by 2030 it's supposed to reach full steam, with some 16,000-18,000 trips per day (or roughly eight to nine thousand passengers a day). 

There has been a lot of debate about this proposal, even by Austin standards. A lot of that has been about the route of the line. The plan is to borrow $1 billion. $400 million would pay for some road improvement projects around Austin. The rest would partially pay for a 9.5 mile line that would run from East Riverside, through downtown and the UT campus, and terminate in the area around Highland Mall.

But let's step aside from the route for a moment, and think about the tool. What if, instead of a light rail line, we opted for a Rapid Bus line instead?

Liang Shi/KUT News

This November, Texas residents will vote on a state constitutional amendment known as Proposition 1. If they approve it, some money from oil and gas production taxes will go into a state transportation fund. Today, state lawmakers went over what’s at stake.

If voters approve Proposition 1, it would divert a portion of oil and gas tax money to the State Highway Fund, which would help the cash-strapped Texas Department of Transportation.

North Carolina Department of Transportation

State transportation authorities announced this week that they received the green light to build a $6.7 million "diverging diamond interchange" at I-35 and University Blvd. in Round Rock. That's an area that gets a lot of traffic, partly because it's near the only IKEA in Central Texas and the Round Rock Premium Outlets, among many other retail businesses.

Daniel Reese

A select Texas House Committee on Transportation is reviewing the underfunded transportation needs in Texas – and it’s having a difficult time.

"I don’t want to make this so much of a basic 101, but transportation financing and funding is very complicated for the people that are involved, let alone those who are not," says state Rep. Joe Pickett, (D-El Paso), the committee’s chair.

Panel members heard from experts like David Ellis, a senior research scientist with the Texas A&M  Transportation Institute. He says the Texas Department of Transportation needs $4 billion more annually to maintain the current quality of roads. That’s on top of the $10 billion a year spent now on road construction and upkeep. He says wear and tear also costs drivers more.

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

In Austin, it's a constant: Traffic.

There’s recent statewide and local efforts to mitigate congestion – which will take substantial investment and extensive construction. So despite proposals in the pipeline, traffic will continue to be a slow-going, fast-growing problem.

So, it got us wondering: What are the worst intersections in Austin? 

Can MoPac Be 'Fixed?'

Aug 30, 2013
Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

About a thousand people a day move to Texas. And if you’re driving on the MoPac expressway at rush hour, it might feel like every one of them is commuting with you.

That's how Sara Robertson feels most days. She's been commuting on MoPac for about eight years. “And every year it gets longer and longer,” Robertson says.

Daniel Reese

By the time the Texas Legislature's second special session of the year ended yesterday, the House still couldn’t get to a deal that would add more funding for road and highway projects. But a similar measure is back on the table as the third special session is already underway. 

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Just over an hour after lawmakers ended their second 30-day special session of the year, Gov. Rick Perry called lawmakers back for a third one, with transportation funding the only issue on the agenda.

"When it comes to transportation, the stakes facing our state could not be higher, and a failure to act now could take years — if not most of a decade — to correct, as traffic congestion increases and harms our quality of life," Perry said in a statement announcing the call.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Texas Senate voted, about 30 minutes before midnight, to pass an abortion bill, Senate Bill 5, with a vote of 20 to 10.

Before debate began roughly 6 hours earlier on the Senate floor, SB 5 got a significant change.

The bill's sponsor, State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, filed a substitute version, removing the provision that would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks of gestation.

That may be to give other provisions a better chance of passing the Legislature.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Seven days remain in the current Texas special legislative session. Lawmakers are not finished debating bills on redistricting, abortion, transportation and criminal justice. 

Daniel Reese

We all know traffic and road conditions are issues across Texas​ – from monster traffic jams in our cities to disintegrating rural roads in heavy oil and gas production areas.

Heading into the just completed legislative session, the Texas Department of Transportation reported just how much more money it needed just to keep things from getting worse.

CAMPO

Starting tomorrow, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization – better known as CAMPO – begins asking for the public’s ideas on a series of projects.

Some projects are being dropped, while others are being picked up for consideration. 

Joy Diaz, KUT News

More than a dozen streets in Austin are about to be invaded with bulldozers whose mission is to re-shape them. Once the streets are re-worked, the hope is they will in turn help slow down the drivers who use them. On the first week of April, the city will unveil which so-called “traffic calming” projects it will fund.

Twice a year, Austin’s Transportation Renee Orr reviews dozens of applications from Austinites who believe their streets would be safer if there were a way to make drivers slow down.

fragility_v2/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/fragility_v2/

The Texas Department of Transportation has received approval to use explosives to demolish the 80-year-old U.S. 281 bridge over Lake Marble Falls in March. Workers have already begun to take down streetlights, guardrails and parts of the bridge structure.

Kelli Reyna with TxDOT says that using explosives will speed up the process.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

An assortment of state lawmakers, county officials and energy industry leaders are working this session to fix the growing number of roads torn up as a result of increased drilling activity.

“Roads that are designed for a 20-year-life are being used in five years,” said DeWitt County Judge Daryl Fowler, who is pressing Austin to come up with a fix this session on behalf of several counties in the Eagle Ford Shale.

Tyler Pratt for KUT News

Update (Nov. 2, 7:30 a.m.): Austin City Council members voted 5 to 2 Thursday to grant a total of 30 new taxi permits to two of the city’s cab companies.

Members of the Taxis Drivers Association of Austin had argued that there are too many cabs on the road and that they’ve seen a decline in income.

But the two cab companies say the new permits are necessary to help level the playing field between them and their larger competitor.

"[We are in favor of the vote] In order to improve our company's service to not only our passengers, but to our drivers. We've been waiting since December of last year to find out if were receiving 10 additional permits," Bertha Means of Austin Cab said.

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