Transportation

Transportation
5:00 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Austin Gas Prices Continue To Fall

Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The price of gasoline continues its downward slide ahead of the holiday travel season. More than 7.5 million Texans prepare to travel 50 miles or more for the holidays, according to a AAA survey.

A gallon of regular unleaded is selling for an average of $3.04 in the Austin-San Marcos metropolitan area, AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report says. That’s a decrease of five cents over the last week. It’s 12 cents less than the price a month ago.

But gas prices are still higher than they were this time last year, when a gallon of regular unleaded sold for an average of $2.81 in the Austin area.

The lowest gas in the city as of this posting is selling for $2.88 at three locations off Research Boulevard in North Austin, according what people have reported to AustinGasPrices.com.

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Transportation
1:09 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Nashville to Abandon Urban Rail For Bus Rapid Transit

Nashville's West End at night
Photo by KentonForshee http://www.flickr.com/photos/kentonforshee/

As Austin considers an electric urban rail system to shuttle people around the central part of the city, Nashville, TN - a city of comparable size - is abandoning its electric street car plan in favor of bus rapid transit.

The reason is mainly price. A study by New York engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff found bus rapid transit would cost $136 million, compared to $275 million for streetcars, Nashville Scene reports.

"Bus rapid transit is by far the most compelling case we've heard," Nashville Mayor Karl Dean told the newspaper.

Here in Austin, the city is considering a series of bonds to pay for an urban rail system that could total $1.3 billion dollars.  Capital Metro is also working on a bus rapid transit plan, currently scheduled to launch in 2014.

CapMetro promises limited stops, boarding from all doors, bus stops with real-time bus arrival information, and buses that have some control over traffic lights.

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Transportation
12:42 pm
Thu December 22, 2011

Your ABIA Holiday Survival Guide

Photo by I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News

It’s the busiest week of the year at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and the holiday rush comes on top of a large increase in annual traffic at the airport.

Traffic over the entire year is up by about six percent. That’s 25,000 passengers a day, on average. Of course, it’s even busier during the holidays. Spokesman Jim Halbrook says it’s taking some passengers up to an hour to get through security. 

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Transportation
10:42 am
Fri December 16, 2011

TxDOT Hopes Toll Relief Will Improve Traffic on I-35

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

The Texas Department of Transportation is slashing tolls for trucks on two highways around Austin in hopes that long-haul drivers will skip Interstate 35. From December 21 to January 4, all trucks on the SH 130/SH 45 E tollway will be charged the rate for a normal passenger vehicle.

In some cases, that’s more than two-thirds cheaper, saving some truckers almost $20.

“I hope these temporary rates will encourage large trucks and other through traffic to take SH 130 and SH 45 SE to bypass Austin-area traffic, resulting in greater travel time savings and less congestion on I-35,” TxDOT’s executive director Phil Wilson said in a news release. 

Transportation
11:43 am
Thu December 1, 2011

I-35 and Ben White Interchange To Reopen Completely Dec. 12

A construction crew working on the I-35/Ben White interchange earlier this year.
Photo by CRT UT Austin http://www.flickr.com/photos/ctr_utaustin/

In about a dozen days, you’ll be able to drive from I-35 to Ben White Boulevard and vice versa in any direction without having to get onto the frontage road. An 18-month project to complete interchanges between the two thoroughfares will be completed December 12.

Currently, three of the four new ramps have been completed. The last one will be opened with a ribbon cutting a week from Monday with State Sen. Kirk Watson, State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, and the Texas Department of Transportation’s Austin District engineer Carlos Lopez.

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Transportation
1:40 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

Travis County Votes for Quick Fix of “Y” in Oak Hill

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A short-term improvement for a chronically clogged intersection in southwest Austin is one step closer to becoming reality. Travis County Commissioners voted today to contribute $1.5 million for renovations to the “The Y” in Oak Hill -- the area where highways US 290 and SH 71 converge.

The City of Austin is kicking in $2.6 million for the $4.7 million project that will be carried out by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). 

“I think people should be really excited about this,” Travis County Commissioner Karen Huber said. “It will help.”

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Transportation
2:31 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Austin Gas Prices Drop Ahead of Long Weekend

Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

For the 56 percent of Texans planning to take a holiday trip this Thanksgiving Day weekend, there's a sliver of good news from your local gas station. Gasoline prices are down six cents over the last week. They’re also down 14 cents over the last month, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

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Transportation
1:13 pm
Thu November 17, 2011

I-35 Improvements Ahead, City Asks for Public Participation

Transportation officials will take input on ideas to ease congestion along I-35 through Austin at an open house today.
Photo by Callie Hernandez/KUT News

City and state transportation officials are holding an open house this afternoon to take public input of the first ideas to improve the I-35 corridor through Central Austin.

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Transportation
2:10 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Electronic Traffic Signs Hit Downtown Streets

Similar to those found on freeways, Austin's Dynamic Message Signs will provide drivers with current traffic information.
Photo by KUT News

Ever wish you could know about a major traffic jam before you get stuck in one? The City of Austin's Transportation Department hopes it can help you do that by installing 13 electronic signs around the city.

By March of next year, drivers passing by these intersections will be informed of real-time traffic jams, construction, weather conditions, special events, as well as detour routes.

"One of the challenges with downtown Austin is that we are at capacity," Transportation Department spokesperson Leah Fillion said.

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Transportation
3:46 pm
Fri November 4, 2011

Revived Group Aims To Coordinate Regional Public Transit

A new transportation working group has reconvened to find a way to connect regional mass transit lines in Central Texas that include highway managed lanes and rail lines.
Daniel Reese

As if awaking from a two year hibernation, a sub-committee of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) held its first meeting this afternoon with a new leader and new members. The Transit Working Group (TWG) was restored in time to prepare for Austin’s soon-to-come vote on an urban rail system.

The working group was first established in 2007 under Austin Mayor Will Wynn. He decided the city needed an urban rail or street car system. But nothing really came out of it. Now, Mayor Lee Leffingwell is leading the TWG.

“The big difference between this group and the one of that before is our focus is going to be regional,” Leffingwell said.

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transportation
1:29 pm
Wed November 2, 2011

Austin Airport's New Body Scanners Will Be Operational Soon

New Advanced Imaging Technology body scanners have new software that does not show detailed images of passengers' bodies.
Image courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration.

The first of four new body scanners has arrived at Austin’s airport, courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Austin-Bergstrom International Airport officials say the scanner is not yet operational. They did not have specifics of when it would be, but a news release said they would be up and running "over the coming days."

Body scanners are controversial. Some state lawmakers have called them a violation of privacy. But the TSA says Austin is getting new so-called Advanced Imaging Technology machines. They do not use X-rays, and they come equipped with new software which officials say is less invasive.

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Transportation
4:18 pm
Tue November 1, 2011

How Would You Improve Loop 360? TxDOT Wants To Know

This map shows the areas of Loop 360 that would be affected by any changes.

As many commuters know well, traffic can be miserable in Austin. In 2010 INRIX, a traffic and congestion software research company, ranked the Austin metro area 26th for worst congestion nation-wide. Here is one commuter's video of sitting in traffic on Texas State Highway Loop 360:

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public safety
2:16 pm
Tue November 1, 2011

Jaywalking Crackdown Reaps More Than 200 Citations So Far

Every dot on this map represents a location where at least three collisions have occurred between pedestrians and vehicles since 2008. For the purpose of this map, cyclists are counted as pedestrians. The data was compiled by the Austin Police Department and placed on a map by KUT News.

Austin police have issued more than 200 jaywalking citations as part of a two-week crackdown that runs through Saturday. APD’s Highway Enforcement Command says it launched the campaign because of a high number of pedestrian deaths: 17 so far this year, compared to 7 in 2010.

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Transportation
10:44 am
Tue November 1, 2011

Austin Airport Gets Cell Phone Waiting Lot

No, it’s not an area where cell phones wait, like some people might muse.

A cell phone waiting area is a free parking lot at the airport where you wait until your friend or family member calls to say they’re ready to be picked up. That way, you won’t have to circle around burning up gas, waiting for them to claim their luggage.

It’s not exactly a new idea.

USA Today identified cell phone waiting lots as “commonplace” back in 2006. Such lots already exist at airports in Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix and Reno, just to name a few locations.

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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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