Traffic, public transit, congestion, road construction and closures, I-35, MoPac, US 290, US 183, Ben White Blvd, and policy and planning issues related to transportation and mobility in Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson.

Get used to seeing these signs if you spend time downtown. The city is temporarily installing 44 of them to direct people to off-street parking. Staff hopes it will help reduce what they call "extraneous traffic circulation." In other words, people circling the block looking for a spot on the street.

View Austin Street Closures - Texas Roundup 2011 in a larger map

The Texas Roundup 5K will close several streets downtown Saturday morning. Check out the map above for details. Blue lines are partial closures. Red lines are full closures. You can a street closure for the exact times, but everything is scheduled to be reopened by 11 a.m.

View Austin Street Closures For Texas Relays 2011 in a larger map

The Texas Relays are not just a serious competition for track and field athletes. The annual event has also become a celebration of southern car culture. All those slabs cruising through downtown can make it very difficult to navigate the area. This year, Austin police say they are taking extra measures to try to mitigate the gridlock.

View Sunday street closures in a larger map

It won't be quite as gridlocked as it was during South by Southwest, but this weekend is filled with events causing road closures in Austin.  In an effort to make it easier for you to understand which streets are closed and when, we've created two Google Maps.  The map above shows street closures on Sunday. The one below shows the street closures on Saturday.

Please zoom in and click on specific closures for more information on the times they are in effect. Red lines indicate full closures. Orange lines indicate partial closures. Blue lines indicate local access only. Green lines show the detour route around the I-35 and Ben White interchange.

Photo by Nathan Bernier

Comfortable shoes and iPad 2s are making way for synthesizers and neck tattoos as South by Southwest shift gears overnight from interactive to music.  The latter brings out much larger crowds, so the city is shutting E. 6th St. at midnight. Right now there are signs warning people to move their vehicles. Check out our Google Map of road closures after the jump.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Construction gates have been removed on a project to renovate the parking lot under Interstate 35 in downtown Austin, allowing people to walk freely on the expanded sidewalks. For the past several months, pedestrians walking under I-35 were restricted to a narrow pathway next to fast moving traffic. That could have created a dangerous situation for the thousands of people descending on the city for SXSW.

Image by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

The Texas Department of Transportation will waive tolls on segments of SH 130 and SH 45 this Saturday, while crews shut down I-35 at the Ben White Freeway (SH-71).

Tolls won't be collected on SH 45 Southeast, SH 130 and a portion of SH 45 North, near Round Rock and Pflugerville between 6:00 a.m. Saturday and 6:00 a.m. Sunday, according to TxDOT spokesman John Hurt. 

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

If you see something that looks like a commuter train wreck in Williamson County tonight, it's only a test.  Capital Metro will conduct an emergency drill involving the MetroRail commuter service starting at 8:00 p.m. this evening somewhere between Leander and Lakeline stations.

View US 290 & I-35 Shutdown Fri-Sun in a larger map

Give yourself extra time this weekend if you plan to drive on Interstate 35 near Ben White. The Texas Department of Transportation is closing a stretch of the highway from Friday night until Monday morning to conduct work on ramps linking I-35 with US 290/SH 71.  Traffic will be diverted along the frontage roads.

The map above shows how traffic will be affected. Red lines are closures. Blue lines are closed to through traffic, important to know if you're trying to plan a route around the traffic mess.

Southbound lanes are scheduled to close around 10 pm on Friday.  Northbound lanes will close at 1 am Friday. Everything is supposed to reopen before 5 am on Monday morning.

Here's a more detailed explanation from the city's website.

Image Courtesy of Solar Images.

Cold weather and power outages could snarl rush hour traffic this afternoon.  Some intersections, like the one at 6th and Lamar, were backed up for blocks because traffic lights went out.  City official recommend driving with caution.

"They're going to come across some signals that are dark," City of Austin Public Works spokesperson Sarah Hartley told KUT News. "Maneuver them the same way they would a four way stop sign. It's going to be just like your good old traffic education that you learned when you got your license. If it's a four-way stop, the people on your right are the first to go and just alternating turns."

As the power gets restored in each intersection, the stoplight initially flashes red before returning to its normal light cycle.

Photo by KUT.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is seeing some flight delays and cancelations in the midst of the arctic weather impacting much of the U.S.  Several flights have been delayed up to several hours, and at least a few departing flights have been canceled. 

Remember to call your airline or check your flights online before you head to the airport.

Image courtesy TxDOT

To ease congestion in Central Texas, the state should switch part of I-35 with SH 130, remove tolls on 130 and add two tolled lanes on I-35. That's the recommendation contained in a report by an advisory panel to the Texas Department of Transportation.

The I-35 Corridor Advisory Committee’s recommendation involves the following actions:

Heads up from the City of Austin. You won't be able to drive west on Oltorf this weekend from I-35. You will be able to drive east but traffic could be slower than usual.  Here's the full release.

Image courtesy Texas Department of Transportation

TxDOT's executive director will retire later this year.

A spokesperson at the Texas Department of Transportation confirms for KUT News that Amadeo Saenz, Jr. will retire from the agency on August 31.  A three-member restructuring council of experts presented a report to the Texas Transportation Commission earlier this month.  In it, the group recommended sweeping executive changes at TxDOT, in an effort to regain the trust of the public and the legislature.  But the spokesperson did not say whether the report contributed to Saenz's decision.

Photo by KUT

Wondering why those green signs are taking up parking spots on the UT campus? That’s ZipCar and they are now on campus. It’s similar to the Car2Go car-sharing program in Austin. ZipCar is also on the Baylor and Rice University campuses.

Students, faculty, staff and community members can rent out a ZipCar vehicle. You’ve probably seen them parked at Gregory Gym and near some dorms. The company rents out full-sized vehicles like trucks and mid-sized sedans. Cars can be rented from an hour to as long as four days.

Callie Hernandez/KUT News

If you're driving downtown for New Year's Eve celebrations, you'll be able to park on the street for free after 5:30 p.m. That would change to midnight under a proposal being considered by the city, and local officials want to know what you think about it.
Outside of downtown, the change would see street parking meters remain in effect from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. instead of the current hours of 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The two-day winter storm has ended in the northeast, but the effort to dig out from the snow is still going strong. Some flights to the region from Austin are still being canceled and the Wall Street Journal reports that it could take days to clear the backlog of travelers.

Several factors stood to delay a full resumption of flights, including the need to plow gates and get airport staff and flight crews back in place.


Santa Claus
Image courtesy Lady Dragonfly CC

Probably no surprise that the guy credited with distributing gifts to millions of kids is getting more tech savvy. Here are some ways to track Santa's flight path on the WWW.

The official NORAD Santa Tracker is going mobile. Not only can you follow Saint Nick's path on their website, but you can also follow his progress on your cell phone by visiting or doing a search for "Santa" on your smartphone's Google Maps app.

Image courtesy Austin Bergstrom International Airport

With apologies to Clement Moore, "'Twas three days before Christmas, and all through the lots, not a creature was stirring, 'cause there weren't any spots."

The economy parking lots at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport are getting full fast.  As of 12:30 Wednesday afternoon, four of the six lots regular economy lots were already full.

No new Capital Metro bus service will start in Cedar Park next month after the Austin suburb's city council voted 3-3 last night on the proposal. The stalemate meant council would not take action to approve the approximately $80,000 that Cedar Park would have to pay Cap Metro for the one year pilot.

"One of my main concerns was that CapMetro receives funding from the federal government because of the population of City of Cedar Park," Council Member Tony Dale told KUT News in explaining why he opposed the deal.