Transportation

traffic
3:53 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Record Number of Street Closures Planned Saturday

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Austin’s merciless summer is over and that means more people are planning outdoor weekend events. This Saturday, Austin will host eight events downtown, setting a record for the number of simultaneous street closures. That's according to the city’s transportation department.

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Transportation
12:52 pm
Fri October 21, 2011

Texas DMV to Vote on Confederate Plates Again

Logo courtesy of Texas Division Sons of Confederate Veterans

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board is once again considering whether to approve specialty license plates displaying the Confederate battle flag. The proposal has proved to be a hot button issue. Nineteen state representatives have sent a letter to the TxDMV expressing their opposition. Representative Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) says he’s deeply troubled by the proposal.

“It couldn’t be clearer to most people of color that the Confederate flag symbolism is reprehensible and is a reminder of a period in history that while we need to remember it, we don’t need to glorify it and for the State of Texas to lend any credibility to this symbolism is totally inappropriate,” Burnam told KUT News. 

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public transit
5:11 pm
Thu October 20, 2011

Why Can't Austin Have This Elaborate Subway System?

Image by Transit Authority Figures

Update (June 17, 2014):  This story from 2011 is enjoying a second-life on the Austin Reddit page. After being posted there it inspired a discussion with over 160 comments. For more on a potential Austin subway, see this report from StateImpact Texas: Why Texas Doesn't Have Subways.

While there are no plans for a subway, Austin's plans for Urban Rail are proceeding rapidly. See KUT's combined reporting on Urban Rail here. And read our latest reporting:

Original story:  A piece of wall art making the rounds online depicts a subway system for Austin that would put this city’s public transit system on par with densely populated cities in the Northeast. The creation is produced and sold by Transit Authority Figures, based in Northampton, Massachusetts.

The poster had many people wondering aloud why Austin couldn’t just go ahead and build a world class subway system. We called up Capital Metro’s vice president of strategic planning and development Todd Hemingson and asked him ourselves.

KUT News: Why can’t we have an amazing subway system like this in Austin?

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Transportation
11:44 am
Fri October 14, 2011

Saturday Night Closures on I-35 at Ben White

Photo by CTR UT Austin http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctr_utaustin/

You can already drive over some of the new constructed ramps of the I-35/Ben White interchange, but the job has yet to be completed. The Texas Department of Transportation says crews will be pouring concrete on two parts of the spans late Saturday night. The area should be opened by 10 a.m. Sunday.

Here are the closures, courtesy of TxDOT:

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Transportation
4:43 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

New Program Uses Parking Meter Money to Fix Local Streets

Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

More parking meters could be installed in some of Austin’s busier residential areas. City council approved a program today that would allow neighborhoods to set up so-called “parking benefits districts”. A portion of parking fees would pay for improvements that promote walking, cycling and using public transit, such as wider sidewalks, additional lighting and bike lanes.

The parking benefits districts could only be set up in an area with 96 or more parking spaces and only after a public notification process that includes mandatory community meetings. Parking fees first have to pay for the cost of the meters. Fifty-one percent of anything beyond that can go to street improvements.

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traffic
10:26 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Red River Rivalry Could Bring Slow Traffic To Parts of I-35

Photo by KUT

If you’re heading to Dallas this weekend to see the Texas Longhorns take on the Oklahoma Sooners, the Texas Department of Transportation says you may encounter about 30 miles of construction on your way.

Crews will not actually be working on road renovation projects along the route, but there may be lane reductions which could cause traffic congestion. Extra traffic from people heading to the game could make those slowdowns move well, slower  than usual.

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transportation
1:53 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

Secret Shopper Reports Expose Austin’s Taxi Problems

Photo by I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News

Taxis that never arrive, cabbies who won’t take a credit card payment for short trips, rude drivers. Those are some of the experiences reported by secret shoppers in a new study on taxi service conducted for the City of Austin.

In one secret shopper report, the dispatcher told the passenger to call back if the cab didn’t arrive on time. This was on a Friday morning.

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Transportation
11:57 am
Wed September 28, 2011

How Would You Fix I-35?

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

It’s one of Austin’s favorite things to complain about: gridlock on the interstate. Just yesterday, we learned how the average person wastes 38 hours a year stuck in traffic in Austin.  A good percentage of that is spent idling on that north-south thoroughfare.

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Transportation
2:56 pm
Tue September 27, 2011

Recession May Have Eased Traffic Congestion in Austin

Austinites are spending less time stuck in traffic, according to a new study from the Texas Transportation Institute.
Photo by KUT News

You might have lost your job and your home in the economic downturn, but at least you’re not spending as much time in traffic. The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) at Texas A&M University released its annual Urban Mobility Report today. While it might seem hard to believe to those stuck in traffic, TTI found that congestion is lower in Austin than it was five years ago.

In 2010, the average Austinite wasted 38 hours – almost an entire work week in traffic – according to TTI. In 2005, the number was 52 hours.  Over the same period of time, Travis County's unemployment rate rose from about 4.5 percent in 2005 to around 7 percent in 2010.

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Transportation
12:53 pm
Tue September 6, 2011

New Parking Meter Hours Take Effect Today

You now have to plug the meter until midnight if you want to visit Austin's downtown entertainment district on Thursday, Friday or Saturday.
Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

If you like to frequent downtown businesses on the evenings of Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights, you’ll now have to pay until midnight for street parking. That's one of the changes to parking meter hours taking effect today.

The old schedule had people paying during weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Here are the new meter hours:

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Transportation
3:44 pm
Wed August 31, 2011

Harsher DWI Penalties For “No Refusal” Labor Day Weekend

Photo by Renee Silverman http://www.flickr.com/photos/reneesilverman/

People pulled over for suspected drunk driving over the Labor Day weekend may have their blood forcibly withdrawn by Austin police officers. It’s part of the so-called “No Refusal” policy that APD conducts over long weekends.

But this weekend, a new law will increase penalties for first-time offenders with a blood alcohol level of 0.15, almost double the legal limit of 0.08.

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traffic
4:15 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

TxDOT Considering 75 MPH Speed Limits in Central Texas

Night time speed limits will be eliminated and some 70 mph zones could be increased to 75 mph under HB 1353.
Photo by Novasource https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/User:Novasource

A new law takes effect on Thursday that allows the Texas Department of Transportation to raise speed limits from 70 mph to 75 mph on any highway, as long as doing so would be “reasonable and safe.” And while the limits won’t be increased on September 1, a TxDOT spokesman says several roads in the Austin-area are likely to see their limits increased in the near future.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s firm yet, but I would say that it’s a reasonable expectation that those are the areas we will convert, especially the interstate,” TxDOT spokesman John Hurt told KUT News. “Our speed studies indicate that people are already driving that speed limit now.”

Hurt said these Central Texas roads are among those under consideration for higher speed limits:

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Transportation
12:11 pm
Mon August 29, 2011

TxDOT Names Interim Head

John Barton will temporarily take over the reins at TxDOT on September 1.
Photo Courtesy by Texas Department of Transportation

The Texas Transportation Commission announced John Barton to be TxDOT's interim executive director. Barton's appointment takes into effect on September 1.

Barton also serves as Assistant Executive Director for Engineering Operations and currently have over 25 years of experience from TxDOT.  He was responsible for the management and control of several projects and programs including Aviation, Bridge, Design, Environmental Affairs, Rail and Research & Technology Implementation Office.

traffic
4:09 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Weekend Closure: Medical Pkwy. and 40th St. Intersection

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The city says it's closing the intersection of Medical Parkway and 40th Street from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Detours will get people around the area.

Work crews will be installing about 70 feet of storm drain piping across Medical Parkway that is intended to reduce the possibility of flooding if it rains heavily. It's part of a city project called the Rosedale Storm Drain Improvement.

transportation
1:45 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Gas Prices Down Seven Cents

Just time for summer road trips, gas prices are trending downward.
Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News

Both the wallets and the gas tanks of Austinites might be a little more full this weekend. Gas prices are down by more than seven cents since last Friday.   

A gallon of regular unleaded is now selling for an average of $3.521 in Austin, according to AAA.  The national average is $3.606 a gallon.

Transportation
11:23 am
Fri August 12, 2011

Urban Rail Prototype Displayed

 

People got a chance to climb aboard the possible future of Austin's mass transit system on Thursday. Kinkisharyo, a Japanese-based streetcar manufacturer, is taking its new prototype on an American tour.

The streetcar runs on a combination of power from batteries and overhead wires, storing energy when the train brakes and eliminating the need for overhead wires in parts of the route, Kinkisharyo project manager Bill Kleppinger said.

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traffic
12:21 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Report: Red Light Cameras Stop Crashes

Photo by mirsasha http://www.flickr.com/photos/mirsasha/

Red light cameras can cause traffic accidents at intersections to drop by 25 percent, according to a new study by the traffic scientists at Texas A&M’s Texas Transportation Institute.

Red light cameras are installed at 275 intersections across Texas. They automatically snap photos of cars that run red lights. The drivers are sent a ticket in the mail.

The traffic-ologists at TTI examined 11,000 crash records from all those red light camera intersections. They found that red light crashes dropped by a quarter, and right-angle or “T-bone” crashes plummeted by 32 percent.

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Transportation
11:15 am
Fri July 29, 2011

Gas Price Surge Slows As Oil Firms Announce Big Profits

Erik Reyna, KUT News

For the past few weeks, gas prices have been ticking up by between a nickel and a dime a gallon. But the latest price report from AAA shows the rate of increase may be slowing. The average price of regular unleaded rose by only 1.7 cents last week.

A gallon of gas in Austin is an average of $3.602 today. A week ago it was selling at $3.585. Still a lot more than what we were paying a year ago, when regular unleaded was $2.563 per gallon.

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Transportation
12:05 pm
Tue July 26, 2011

Public Comments on Travis County Bond Proposal

The Travis County roads and parks bond proposal includes money to build more sidewalks and road improvements. Photo by KUT News.

Travis County residents are giving County Commissioners their two cents at a public hearing on the county bond package proposal. The proposal, unveiled last week, is a $206 million bond of 36 various transportation, park and utility line projects. This bond is an abbreviated list from an earlier proposal that of about $638 million.

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Traffic
12:46 pm
Wed July 20, 2011

Extension of Downtown Parking Meter Hours Could Be Further Delayed

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The extension of downtown parking meters was already delayed once, from August 1 to September 6, because of delays in equipment orders. But now politics could push that date back even further.

The new rules would extend downtown parking meter hours to run from 8 am until midnight from Monday through Saturday. Currently, meters run from 8:30 am until 5:30 pm.

The extension would also affect meters throughout Austin. Outside the downtown core, meters would run from 8 am until 6 pm.

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