Transportation

Transportation
2:26 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

One Step Closer to Managed Toll Lanes on MoPac

The plan would put a managed lane - or toll lane - in each direction along MoPac north of Lady Bird Lake and south of Parmer.
flickr.com/mirsasha

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, better known as CAMPO, last night approved its MoPac Improvement Project.

The project will put a managed toll lane in each direction on MoPac, from Cesar Chavez to Parmer Lane. Toll pricing would be adjusted based upon MoPac's level of congestion at the time of use. The hope is to make traffic on the entire freeway move faster.

The $200 million project was put together by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and is being paid for by state and federal funding. The agreement between the mobility authority and CAMPO also creates an infrastructure fund. Basically, $230 million in money collected from tolls on MoPac over the first 25 years of its operation will be used to pay for other transportation projects in the area.

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Transportation
11:21 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Are Extra Permits the Answer to Improving Taxi Service?

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The City of Austin received a survey in September 2011 on the city's taxi issues.  Nearly a year later, the headaches continue. 

At last week’s Austin City Council meeting, members again debated how to get the right amount of taxis to the right places at the right time, while ensuring an even playing field for the city's three taxi companies and their drivers.    

In the end, council approved – on first reading only – the issuance of more permits to the city's two smaller companies: Lone Star Cab and Austin Cab. This week, Lone Star Cab’s franchise renewal returns to council, and Yellow Cab – which dominates the market with 400-plus permits – is also up for renewal, and additional permits.

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Transportation
10:47 am
Mon June 11, 2012

For TxDOT, a $2 Billion "Perception Problem"

Eddie Seal/Texas Tribune

The Texas Department of Transportation, which often argues that it lacks the money to properly maintain its network of roads, surprised many state leaders in March when it announced it had an extra $2 billion.

In a state with a population growing faster than its transportation system, extra cash for transportation projects was welcome news.

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Transportation
1:32 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Fatal Motorcycle Wreck Closes Freeway Flyover

Update 1:15 p.m. APD confirm the motorcyclist killed this morning was a 50 year-old man, but haven't released any more details, pending notification of his next of kin.

Police say the man hit a guardrail on the flyover from I-35 to 290 just after 10 a.m. and fell over the rail onto the service road some 30 feet below. Police will keep the flyover closed as they investigate the cause of the accident.

Update: 12:05 p.m. Austin Police say I-35 is open, but the flyover from East 290 to I-35 is still closed.

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Transportation
1:30 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Some Elroy Residents Concerned About F1 Traffic

Construction of the Circuit of the Americas track continues.
Photo courtesy Circuit of the Americas

The roads of Southeastern Travis County will be flooded with people when Formula One holds its first Austin race this November. Travis County Commissioners heard from the public today about a mass gathering permit requested by the Circuit of the Americas for the event.

The track is being built near Elroy and there’s some concern over whether existing roads will be able to handle the race day traffic.

Race organizers want an attendance cap of 250,000 people over three days. Elroy resident Cathy Olive thinks the commissioners should lower that.

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Transportation
11:58 am
Fri June 1, 2012

Leffingwell: 2012 'Not the Right Time' for Urban Rail

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, speaking at a rail event in 2010.
Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

Citing timing and financial constraints, Mayor Lee Leffingwell is arguing funding for Urban Rail shouldn't be put to voters this November.

In a post on his website, Mayor Leffingwell writes "we do not yet have a sufficient level of certainty regarding a plan to fund and manage operations and maintenance of an urban rail system. We also do not yet have the degree of certainty that I would like to see as it relates to a prospective federal funding match for construction costs, which is a fundamental need."

He also notes that in addition to potential rail funding on the ballot this November, "we are also poised to ask [voters] to approve a host of other critically needed bond investments." 

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Transportation
10:42 am
Fri June 1, 2012

Red-Light Cameras Reducing Accidents While Revenue Shrinks

Police credit Austin's red light program with reducing accidents - but many violators have skirted paying their fines.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/rutlo

The city of Austin has cut the number of car crashes at ten of its most dangerous intersections in half. But how?

Red-light cameras that electronically photograph cars running red lights have been set up all over Austin. Over the past three years, these cameras have provided means to give almost 35,000 citations to those dangerous drivers.

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Transportation
4:03 pm
Wed May 30, 2012

iPhone App Might Make It Easier To Find Parking

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

On some days, you might have more success finding buried pirate treasure than a parking spot in downtown Austin. Enter: iPhones.

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Transportation
11:25 am
Mon May 28, 2012

Get Onboard: It's Time To Stop Hating The Bus

In a piece for Salon.com, Will Doig argues that it's time for Americans to reconsider the bus.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon May 28, 2012 3:07 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on March 29, 2012.

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Urban Rail
2:38 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Feds May Cover Half of $550 Million Urban Rail Line

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, speaking at a rail event in 2010.
Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

What’s the estimated cost of Austin’s first urban rail investment? $550 million.

That was the price tag the Austin City Council heard in a work session this morning. Assistant City Manager Robert Goode said some $550 million was required to build the first proposed phase of urban rail, from the convention center through the UT-Austin campus and on the Mueller neighborhood.

And while the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts funding program could cover roughly half of that, rail consultants said the city would need to cover the other $275 million, likely in large part through a bond election – should council place it on the ballot, and voters approve it.

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Urban Rail
5:00 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

City Council Considers Urban Rail (and How to Fund It) Tuesday

The City of Austin invited Oregon Ironworks to show their urban rail vehicle in 2010.
Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

Austin’s urban rail plans will take a major step tomorrow when a preliminary funding and phasing plan will be outlined during an Austin City Council work session.

The Austin Transportation Department sent out a memo last Thursday outlining initial phases of investment for urban rail. 

The first proposed phase would serve Downtown, the Capitol Complex, UT, Hancock Center and Mueller. Phase Two would cross the river and head down Riverside Drive to Pleasant Valley.

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Transportation
1:36 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

'Click It or Ticket' Starts Today

For the next two weeks, law enforcement will watch closely for seat belt scofflaws.
Photo by By Daniel Reese for KUT News

Today marks the beginning of another "Click it or Ticket" campaign, a two-week undertaking by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to enforce seat belt usage. 

In Texas and across the country, law enforcement will be on the lookout for drivers and passengers shirking seatbelt laws, or whose children are improperly restrained. (Children under eight years must be in a child safety seat, unless they are taller than 4'9".) Citations run up to $250.

The NHTSA writes on its website that in the annual “Click It or Ticket” initiative, over three million tickets have been written over the last five years – a ticket every other second.

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Transportation
3:27 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

How Much Can You Save by Biking to Work?

You can calculate your commuter savings by switching to two wheels.
Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Today is National Bike to Work Day – and with Austin’s infamous gridlock, more and more commuters are increasingly pedal-powered.

In celebration of Bike to Work Day, Kiplinger.com offers Americans a way to see exactly how much money they would save by riding their bikes to work every day. 

From the heart of residential Tarrytown, at Windsor Road and Exposition Boulevard, to Austin City Hall, Kiplinger estimates a savings of $13.19 a day for a seven-mile round trip and $10 a day for parking for about $3,500 in yearly savings.

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Transportation
4:52 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

City Unveils Recommended Urban Rail Routes

The first proposed phase would serve Downtown, the Capitol Complex, UT, Hancock Center and Mueller. Phase 2 would cross the river and head down Riverside to Pleasant Valley.
Image courtesy Austin Transportation Department.

The City of Austin Transportation Department says the first phase of a new urban rail system should run from the convention center downtown, through the UT-Austin campus, and on to the Mueller neighborhood.

In a memo released today, the department also laid out a path for a second phase going south of the river. That route would head south from the convention center, across Lady Bird Lake and then run along East Riverside Drive to Pleasant Valley road.

The memo doesn’t have cost estimates for either route. The Austin City Council will take up the recommendations and cost estimates during two upcoming work sessions. On May 22, it will hear a conceptual funding plan, then on May 29, the council will hear a Transportation staff-recommended “next investment.” 

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Transportation
1:22 pm
Mon May 7, 2012

Early Report: U.S. Highway Deaths Fall to Lowest Number Since 1949

Skid marks left by a van are visible on a highway after a van plunged over both the concrete and iron railing, killing three generations of a Bronx family, in New York.
Louis Lanzano AP

Originally published on Mon May 7, 2012 11:59 am

If a preliminary report holds true, the number of road deaths fell again in 2011. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 32,310 people died on highways last year, down almost 2 percent from the 32,885 people who died in 2010.

The Detroit News reports:

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Transportation
4:49 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

Another I-35 Accident Closed Lanes Earlier Today

I-35 was subject to two separate closures today.
Photo by KUT News

Authorities shut down the north and southbound lanes on Interstate 35 earlier this afternoon, after a pickup truck hit a small propane tank trunk just south of Slaughter Lane.

“The pick up truck caught on fire and there was a small leak from the propane tank,” said Veneza Aguinaga, a senior police officer at the Austin Police Department.  “It is typical protocol to shut down a road if we feel there is a threat to citizens.”

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Transportation
4:20 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

'Click It or Ticket' Photo Op Leaves Onlookers Hanging

Raising awareness for auto safety, seatbelts were used to hoist a truck in Downtown Austin.
Photo by Jillian Schantz Patrick

In recent years, cranes have become an integral part of the Austin skyline. But it's not very often you see one suspend a pickup truck by seatbelts. 

This morning, the Texas Department of Transportation did just that as part of a demonstration to show the strength and power of seatbelts. 

The Click it Or Ticket campaign will stretch from May 21 to June 3 as an attempt to bring awareness and enforcement to the state seatbelt laws. Current law requires that every person in the vehicle must be secured by a seatbelt whether in the front or back seat.

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Capital Metro
10:39 am
Mon April 30, 2012

Fatality in Cap Metro Train Collision

An image of the collision this morning.
Photo courtesy Twitter user JenelleS_KVUE, http://yfrog.com/mnhspfwj

Update 1 p.m.: Capital Metro says complete rail service should be back on regular schedule by 1:15 p.m.

Update 10:30 a.m.: A 32 year-old man was killed in a Capital Metro rail collision this morning. Two children were also in the car with the unnamed man, and were taken to Dell Children’s Hospital. Capital Metro spokesperson Misty Whited tells KUT she’s learned the children are in stable condition.

127 passengers were aboard the train at the time of the collision, plus one train operator.

The collision occurred at a private drive crossing the Cap Metro rail line; out of 74 total crossings along the rail line, 13 are on private drives. Only two have crossing gates; the crossing at Oak Hill Drive (mapped below) did not have a gate, only a stop sign.

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Capital Metro
2:37 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

Cap Metro Workers Should Keep Jobs Under Contractors

Contractors will take over employee management duties for Capital Metro in a few months.
Photo courtesy Van Sutherland via Flickr

This morning, Capital Metro bus drivers and mechanics met their soon-to-be employers. Representatives from the companies that Cap Metro is contracting out services with were at the bus garages at 4 a.m. for a quick meet and greet.

Yesterday, the Capital Metro Board of Directors voted to outsource hundreds of employees. Those include regular bus drivers and mechanics along with people who provide door-to-door services for the disabled.

A new law required Cap Metro either to outsource their workers or bring them in as state employees.

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Capital Metro
2:09 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Cap Metro Staff Makes Contractor Recommendations

Cap Metro staff has proposed separate contractors for regualr bus routes and its paratransit services, pictured above.
Photo courtesy Flickr user i-Ride Capital Metro

Today, Capital Metro staff met with the agency Board of Directors to make recommendations on new contractor bids. Monday, the board will make a final decision.

These are the last few steps towards a new labor structure for Capital Metro. The changes are required to comply with a new state law that requires transit employees to either become employees of the state or to become employees of a private contractor. The union that represents most of the employees chose the latter option so they could retain collective bargaining rights.

The board will need to choose one contractor for employees of fixed-route bus services and another for employees of paratransit services (door-to-door services for people with disabilities). The board could also choose to have one contractor employ workers of both services.

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