Transportation

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.

Our buddy over at the Austin Business Journal, Jacob Dirr, is reporting that the Austin Transportation Department (ATD) wants you to pay for parking downtown until midnight and end free parking on Saturdays.  ATD also wants to extend meter enforcement citywide from 5:30 p.m. until 6 p.m., reports the ABJ.

ZipCar
Image courtesy citta-vita http://www.flickr.com/photos/koshalek/

Students, faculty, and staff at the University of Texas at Austin will be able to rent one of eight ZipCar vehicles positioned throughout campus starting in mid-January. ZipCar is a private company that rents full sized cars on an hourly basis.

ZipCar will be competing with Car2Go, which rents tiny smart cars. Car2Go was only available to city workers for a year under a pilot program. It now offers car rentals to everyone in the city.

Image courtesy mirsasha http://www.flickr.com/photos/mirsasha/

The Austin Police Department just announced the 47th and 48th traffic fatalities of the year.  This time last year, there had been 58 traffic deaths reported in Austin. It's a decrease of about 20 percent.

The 47th fatality was a 76-year-old man who crossed the center line while driving down Anderson Mill Road and smashed into another vehicle just after 4 pm yesterday. Police don't believe alcohol or speed was a factor.

CapMetro Cedar Park map
Image courtesy CapMetro

Austin's public transit agency Capital Metro has announced that it will begin a one-year trial service to the exurb of Cedar Park.

Cedar Park City Council still has to vote on the measure at its next meeting on December 16. Under the deal, Cedar Park and Austin Community College would pay CapMetro almost $117,000.

Plane touching down at Logan Airport
Image courtesy Pylon757 http://www.flickr.com/photos/10037058@N08/

This happened on November 24, but news organizations are just getting air traffic control video showing how a flight from Austin narrowly missed disaster at Boston Logan International Airport.

JetBlue flight 1264 arrived safely with 91 passengers on board, but the pilot turned right instead of left while taxiing to the gate, reports WCVB Boston.

Bridge over I-35
Image courtesy splorp http://www.flickr.com/photos/splorp/

Some crucial traffic information if you're planning on driving along I-35 in Hays County: The Texas Department of Transportation says it will close all northbound lanes near Buda exit 217 from 8 p.m. today until 6 a.m. Wednesday.  Traffic will be rerouted along access roads.

TxDOT says they'll repeat the whole procedure with the southbound lanes on Wednesday night during the same time frame. Northbound lanes will not close Wednesday night.

screen capture from TxDOT telenovela ad
Screen capture from TxDOT anti-DUI ad.

The Texas Department of Transportation announced today that it has been airing these two-minute 'mini' telenovelas on the Spanish-language TV networks Univision, Estrella, and Telefutura. TxDOT says it is one of the first US state agencies to create anti-DUI ads using the telenovela form, "which is very popular in the Spanish-speaking community."

Check out the videos for yourself.

Urban Rail Vehicle
Photo by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

The City of Austin showed off an urban rail car at the Palmer Events Center today. The vehicle is already being manufactured for the cities of Portland and Tuscon.

It’s part of the ongoing campaign to get Austinites on board for an urban rail line that would run from the Mueller neighborhood through downtown to the airport. 

Building the line would cost $1.3 billion, and city council is considering asking taxpayers to approve a bond package in 2012.

We can quibble about the accuracy of this tool, but it definitely an interesting way to visualize public transit data. French software developer Stefan Wehrmeyer invented a Google Maps mashup that shows how far you can travel by public transit or on foot from any given point on the map.

Go here and just drag the marker to any place, then use the time slider in the bottom right to adjust the size of the blotch.

Here's their video explaining the concept. 

Image courtesy Josh Liba http://www.flickr.com/photos/jliba/

Anyone who's driven through a red-light at night and seen the flash of a camera knows the pain of anticipating the fine in the mail.  Since the City of Austin installed its red-light cameras in 2008, more than 28,000 citations have been issued.

In the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years, the city says it raked in almost $1.6 million dollars in fines from red light cameras. After expenses, the profit from those two years was $363,869. The city splits that 50/50 with the state.

UT Shuttle
Image courtesy Cap Metro

Many observers would be surprised if Austin's public transit agency did not adopt the third fare hike in three years today. Capital Metro has already calculated the fare increase into its FY2011 budget.

"The approved budget also increases our long-term sustainability by lowering costs [and] boosting revenue through a fare increase," Cap Metro president and CEO Linda Watson wrote in the budget document.

Image courtesy Dave Wilson http://www.flickr.com/photos/dawilson/

President Obama is scheduled to speak at 3:15 pm CST today about a potential terrorism plot being investigated on three continents. The scare involves suspicious packages shipped on cargo planes from Yemen to the United States, reports Philadelphia's ABC affiliate WPVI.

The investigation included two planes at Philadelphia International Airport. Officials tell Action News that a total of six packages were removed from the planes there.
 

cyclist
Photo by Katie Hayes for KUT News

Bicycle enthusiasts are reacting with glee to an Austin City Council vote yesterday that approved a deal to build ten miles of bike lanes in Austin.

The deal between the city and the Texas Department of Transportation will see the two split the bill for $1.1 million. TxDOT's share of the cash is coming from the federal government's Transportation Enhancement Program.

Map of possible Oklahoma City to South Texas High-Speed Rail Corridor
Images courtesy Texas Department of Transportation

We are still years, perhaps even decades away from being able to hop on a high-speed train and travel to Dallas in less time than it takes to read the A Section of the New York Times.

But today, the Texas Department of Transportation says we are one baby-step closer to that possibility because of a chunk of cash the state was awarded in the latest round of US Department of Transportation high-speed rail grants.  

Capital Metro bus in downtown Austin
Photo by KUT News

Capital Metro is holding another public hearing tonight on a proposal to increase the price of taking public transit. The hikes are intended to help Cap Metro balance its FY 2011 budget. Most of the agency's operating revenue comes from local sales tax. Cap Metro says that's an unreliable source of income because of fluctuations in consumer spending.

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