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.


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.

Ihwa Cheng for KUT News

Austin taxi drivers are working more but seeing a decline in income and business. And, as you might imagine, many aren’t happy about that. The Taxi Drivers Association of Austin (TDAA) is even more upset that the trend may be exacerbated if the Austin City Council approves 30 new cab permits on Thursday.

The TDAA says the noticeable decline in business happened after a first round of new cab permits approved by the Austin City Council hit the streets in July. Because, while more taxis on the streets means more options for riders, it means more competition for drivers.

A new report released by the City of Austin’s Transportation Department finds the average cab driver made about one fewer trip in July 2012 than in July 2011. Cab drivers made an average of $461 less this July than last—equivalent to a drop of $2.40 an hour. That’s despite an increase in cab fares but doesn’t take tips into account.

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Here’s a mantra you may repeat to yourself in Austin traffic (likely in-between bouts of profanity): The left lane is for passing only.

Despite the fact that passing on the left is the safest practice (and the fact that Texas has prohibitions against passing on the right), it’s a practice that’s routinely disregarded – just ask any Central Texas motorist.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT) is trying to do something about that, by installing a little reminder on Texas highways: some 3,400 signs stating “Left Lane for Passing Only.”

Before you get your hopes up, here’s the rub – they’re only going up on highways with speed limits over 75 mph. That excludes Mopac and Interstate 35 as they cut through most of Central Austin.

SH 130 Concession Company

The fastest road in the country is now open to drivers in Central Texas. The 85 mile per hour portion of State Highway 130 opened this morning.

The toll road stretches across about 41 miles from Mustang Ridge to Seguin. It will soon cost drivers 15 cents per mile—or $6.17 to drive the length of the road—but it’s free through Nov. 10th.

Eighteen-wheelers will be charged 60 cents per mile. But, as reported last month, truckers may avoid the toll road altogether because driving over 65 mph reduces fuel efficiency and also raises safety concerns.

Capital Metro

Capital Metro is prepping for the traffic nightmare that’s likely to be Formula 1 weekend in Austin.

The transit company will be offering a free shuttle loop around downtown to help visitors and Austinites navigate road closures. Cap Metro will also increase trips to and from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, for race fans coming into town and locals heading out to avoid the mayhem. And, for the first time ever, MetroRail will operate on a Sunday.

But what may be most interesting to those who rely regularly on Capital Metro service is that the company is debuting a mobile ticketing app for use during F1.

M² (pronounced M-squared) stands for More Mobile App. Starting Oct. 31, the free app will be available in the Apple Store and in Google Play. While the specifics of how the app will work aren’t yet clear – Cap Metro’s description only says “Operators may request you to tap the screen to confirm pass authenticity” – riders will be able to purchase and use one-day or seven-day passes on their phones.

Federal Railroad Administration

The Texas Department of Transportation has moved one step closer towards the idea of using rail as an option to address highway congestion on Interstate 35. The news comes as the TxDOT kicks off a $14 million, two-year study to explore the possibility of passenger rail service from Oklahoma City to South Texas.

The study will examine the best possible options for the development of passenger trains that will connect metropolitan areas such as the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Austin, and San Antonio.  The analysis will compare different types of services, including both a new high-speed rail system and existing Amtrak routes.

John Barton, TxDOT deputy executive director and chief engineer, says “passenger rail [is] a strategic component for the future of Texas transportation.”

The rail study is partially funded by a $5.6 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration’s High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program, and a 20 percent match by TxDOT.

Law enforcement agencies across Central Texas are cracking down on drivers who ignore the state’s “move over” law.

When emergency responders are stopped on the roadway, drivers are required to move over a lane to pass or to slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. If the speed limit is below 25 mph, drivers are required to slow to 5 mph.

For the next three weeks, Austin Police Department officers and law enforcement officers from at 20 other departments say they will will target drivers who illegally pass emergency vehicles.

Sean C. Murphy for KUT News

With 70,000 people making their way there each day, you can expect heavy traffic this weekend as people head down to the Austin City Limits Music Festival

Big delays around ACL host Zilker Park are a given. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Catch the Bus: Roads will also be closed around Republic Square Park at Fifth Street and Guadalupe Street to make room for Capital Metro's free ACL Shuttle at downtown. The shuttle drops off at ACL’s doorstep in Zilker Park.

Capital Metro is reaching out to residents in the suburbs north of Austin for input on possible transit options for connecting them to Central Austin. Cap Metro says it’s the number one transportation priority for the region. The big reason? A lot of people may live in Williamson County, but many of them work in Travis County.

Cap Metro has already heard from people during traditional open houses. Now, the transit company is seeking input through a website – what it’s calling an “Online Open House.”

The website lets visitors control what looks like a sort of power point presentation. It highlights a few problems: congestion, rapid population growth and the restraints of the current highway system.

But what Cap Metro says it’s really interested in is feedback. One of the most interesting forms of feedback that commuters can give is on the site’s “Interactive Map.” Website visitors are invited to draw in suggested transportation alternatives for getting around in the North Corridor during rush hour.

SH 130 Concession Company

The latest toll road in Central Texas is set to open later this month.

Operators of the newest segment to State Highway 130 – from Mustang Ridge to Interstate 10 near Seguin – announced this morning the road will be open on Oct. 24.

The 41-mile segment has gained national notoriety because it will have a posted speed limit of 85 miles an hour. As KUT News previoisly reported, It took a new law, passed in 2011, to get the new speed limit in place. 

The San Antonio Express-News reports that the toll road will be free through Nov. 11. 

Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

The Austin City Council will consider Thursday whether to authorize an agreement with Capital Metro to spend $5 million for urban rail planning. The bulk of the money ($4 million) will come from a federal grant that requires a local match of 20 percent ($1 million).

So why spend such a large sum when previous money hasn’t produced any visible results? That was a question raised by council member Bill Spelman at council’s work session Tuesday. “A lot of people are concerned that we are putting the cart before of the horse,” he said. “We are spending four million dollars when we really haven’t decided what to do”.            

In May, the city released recommended routes for the first two phases of Urban Rail. Robert Spillar is the director of the city’s Transportation Department, and he sees the release of the money as the next step. At Tuesday’s work session he said getting the city’s stamp of approval would allow the Transportation Department to “restart” the alternatives analysis. 

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

This election, Austin voters will be asked to decide on 18 propositions, including seven bond propositions totaling $385 million. KUT News is taking an in-depth look at all seven of the bond propositions, starting with the largest spending package: Prop 12, funding transportation and mobility projects.

According to the city, the $143.3 million proposal would fund the “improvement, construction and design” of sidewalks, bridges and roads to help ease traffic and congestion. That will likely include updates to Interstate 35, MoPac and North Lamar Boulevard.

The bond would also fund new traffic signals and pedestrian beacons backers says will improve safety, and help pay for a portion of the Violet Crown Trail, a 30-mile hiking and biking path from Zilker Park to Hays County. A full list of potential transportation projects can be found on the city’s website.

Love Austin is a campaign by bond supporters that hopes to educate voters about the city’s overall bond package. At a kick-off party at Nuevo Leon in East Austin, field director Ian Davis said he’s excited about the new trail. “You know I grew up hiking and biking in the greenbelt and now ... I have a young son and I’m just looking forward to taking him on this very new trail," Davis said.  "I think it’s going to be an environmental treasure."

Ready for the insane crush of traffic expected during Austin's inaugural Formula One event in November? The airport says it is. Cap Metro does too. But what about racing fans? In case they need help, the hosts of the Grand Prix unveiled some general guidance this morning, which you may or may not find to be the most obvious advice imaginable. 

F1 track owners Circuit of the Americas issued a statement today detailing a “comprehensive plan” to expedite  traffic to the track. The COTA team’s general guidelines include:

  • Carpooling to the COTA site
  • Budgeting enough time. “Attendees should expect to add at least one hour to their travel time to get to their shuttle Park + Ride location and at least 90 minutes to get from their lodgings to the Circuit with an on-site parking pass.”
  • Not bringing stuff you’re not supposed to (Booze, animals, "illegal substances")
  • Using the directions you’re given with your ticket. “Please follow printing directions rather than GPS-identified routes.”
  • Expecting traffic and its delays
  • Planning to spend all day at the Circuit
  • Dressing appropriately, presumably so you won’t need to leave the premises.
bus photo Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News; F1 photo

More than 120,000 people are expected to flock to the Austin area for the upcoming Formula 1 Grand Prix. And you can bet that many of those visitors will want to take in Austin’s downtown scene.

So while the cars on the Circuit of the Americas track will reach speeds of around 200 miles per hour, the traffic that comes with all those visitors could mean chugging along at a snail’s pace downtown. That is, on the roads that remain open—most of Congress Avenue will be closed from the capitol to the lake over race weekend. And many East-West streets will be partially shut down between Lavaca Street and Neches Street.

Capital Metro is expanding bus and rail service to help.

Visitors (or Austinites getting out of town in an effort to avoid the mayhem) can take advantage of a $1 bus service running between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and downtown.

KUT News

Austin’s roads cost each local driver $1,200 a year. That's according to TRIP, a highway industry nonprofit. The organization also found that deficient roads in Texas cost drivers a total of $23 billion each year.

The report says poor road conditions cause accidents and additional traffic which lead to longer commute times and greater fuel usage. Substandard roads can also result in more wear and tear to vehicles and tires, resulting in higher maintenance costs. 

Overall, TRIP found that 18 percent of Texas’s major urban roads are in poor condition, while 27 percent are considered mediocre. Though $1,200 a year isn't chump change, the report still found Austin has the fewest number of roads in poor condition with nine percent. San Antonio ranks highest, with 33 percent of its roads in poor condition. 

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

It was a dangerous night on Austin roads as three separate incidents lead to three deaths.

The lower deck of Interstate 35 was closed at the split this morning, due to a fatality in the 3200 block of the interstate.

KXAN spoke with Austin Police Sgt. Daniel Watson; he told the station a man was “running in the lanes” along the interstate, near St. David’s Hospital, and was killed after getting hit by a truck. The motorist stayed at the scene and cooperated with authorities.

In southeast Travis County, another pedestrian and auto collision occurred at Highway 71 East and FM 973. The incident closed all westbound lanes of Highway 71. According to the Austin American-Statesman, the pedestrian was also in the road, and the driver also remained on the scene.