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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

Photo by Renee Silverman

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.

Photo by 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:

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.

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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.

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.

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.

Photo by 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.

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.

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.

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.

Two flyover ramps were being constructed to complete this interchange in southwest Austin.

Drivers looking forward to the completion of two flyover bridges linking MoPac and US 290 will have to wait a few extra months. The contractor building the bridges, Las Vegas-based Wiser Construction, has declared bankruptcy.

“I think they just realized they were in over their head,” Texas Department of Transportation spokesman John Hurt told KUT News.

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Tight budget times have agencies, companies, families, everybody… looking for creative ways to either spend less money or make more. Capital Metro’s starting to explore that “make more money” option.

The transit agency hired a consultant to look into the value of the naming rights to its rail and “park and ride” stops.  Cap Metro’s Audit and Finance Committee’s meeting at 12 noon today to start talking about the naming rights option, and to see much they might be able to make off the venture. 

Photo by Jesse Wang for KUT News

It's another busy weekend in Austin, but before you hit the roads here’s a round-up of road closures and other traffic news for this weekend.

Construction continues this evening on several connecting fly-over ramps at the intersection of I-35 and Ben White Boulevard. The southbound I-35 frontage road will be closed between the intersections of the eastbound and westbound US 290 frontage roads.

Traffic will be diverted down the US 290 frontage road to the turnaround at Congress Avenue. Ben White Boulevard will also be narrowed between Burleson Road and South Congress Avenue to allow one lane of traffic in each direction.

Photo courtesy of TxDOT

As drivers cope with yet another closure around Ben White Boulevard (SH-71) and I-35 this weekend, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Photo by Flickr user pantagrapher

U.S. and Mexican authorities today signed an agreement that will allow trucks from both countries to carry goods far beyond the border separating the two.