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.

UT Shuttle
Image courtesy Cap Metro

Tight budgets could leave some UT Austin commuters without a bus line in the upcoming semester, according to Cap Metro. 

The Wickersham Lane (Route WL) shuttle will be eliminated this semester and the Cameron Road route (Route CR) will be shortened this semester, renamed Route Camino La Costa (Route CLC) and then eliminated after the spring semester.  

The transit authority attributes the cutbacks to a persistent lack of funds from UT's Student Services Budget Committee.

Texas Tribune

In a speech last month kicking off her campaign to be Texas' first Democratic lieutenant governor in 15 years, state Sen.Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio offered examples of what she considered negligence by the state’s Republican leadership.

Ann Choi for KUT News

Editor's note: KUT is one of 13 founding sponsors of the Austin B-cycle program.

Austin's long-awaited bike share program kicks off tomorrow.

It's called B-cycle, and its inauguration will be small. Only 11 kiosks will be open around the downtown area when the program starts Saturday. That number is expected to grow to 40 by the spring.

Wells Dunbar, KUT News

Disclaimer: Project Connect is a KUT sponsor.

Update: The Austin City Council unanimously endorsed two locations for urban rail last night: the Highland Mall region and East Riverside. You can watch citizen testimony and council action on the recommendation.

As KUT reported, investment in those corridors was proposed by Project Connect – a working group of City of Austin, Capital Metro, and other regional transportation officials.

Project Connect named Highland and East Riverside after what it said was a robust, data-driven public input process – but many rail advocates present at the vote last night questioned the process and the decision.

Original story (Dec. 12): To hear Project Connect tell it, they’re practically drowning in data. Project lead Kyle Keahey cited some 45 different measures of information and 11 indices when the group announced its recommendation. (You can look at lots of that data here.)

Daniel Reese for KUT News

This article is written by KUT’s reporting partner the Austin Monitor (formerly In Fact Daily). Below, listen to an interview with author Mark Richardson. 

Current long-term plans – such as the 2035 CAMPO Transportation Plan – will do little more than maintain the current level of traffic bottlenecks on Interstate 35 and won’t take enough vehicles off the road to significantly cut commute times, according to a report on traffic congestion on the I-35 corridor through Austin.

The report, Long-Term Central Texas IH 35 Improvement Scenarios, was done by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute as part of a study ordered by the 83rd Texas Legislature. It is a comprehensive look at long-term strategies to alleviate traffic congestion on I-35 between Buda and Round Rock.

TexPIRG

Austinites are driving less and using public transportation more.

That’s a finding in a new report [PDF] by the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG), a nonprofit research organization.

According to census data, the proportion of Austin workers that commute by private vehicle fell by 4.5 percent from 2000 to 2011. That’s the third largest decline in the country for an urban area.

Jillian Schantz Patrick/KUT News

Update: Austin's latest surge of winter weather means postponement of lane restriping work on MoPac.

While lane closures continue, lane restriping  probably won't begin until after Friday's expected rains, and possible freezing precipitation on Saturday. See the tweet below:

Original story (Dec. 9): Construction work on MoPac is about to get underway. Overnight lane closures begin tonight as crews install construction signs in preparation for restriping portions of the road.

Update at 6:50 p.m. ET. Speeding Into Curve; A Mile Or More To Safely Stop:

A commuter train headed into New York City was traveling at 82 mph Sunday morning when it entered a curve where the speed limit was supposed to be 30 mph and derailed, National Transportation Safety Board investigators have concluded. Four people on the train were killed and at least 60 others were injured.

Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson

In 2015, an 11-mile stretch of Austin’s MoPac Boulevard will expand to eight lanes from six. The two new lanes will be tolled, giving drivers the chance to pay a premium to avoid the road’s frequent congestion. 

While the toll lanes will help ease traffic on the free lanes, neither the Texas Department of Transportation nor any of the local entities involved in the $200 million project are predicting it will transform MoPac into a free-flowing thoroughfare. With robust population growth projected for the region, MoPac traffic is expected to continue periodically slowing to a crawl for decades. When it does, local officials are optimistic that frustrated commuters will notice that it is not only personal vehicles zipping past them on the toll lanes. 

flickr.com/dsebourn

Even if you’re staying off the highway this Thanksgiving, your plans might still be affected by holiday schedules and street closures.

Chief among them: the 23rd Annual ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot takes place downtown Thursday morning, with many roads  blocked off until noon. The course, which begins at Auditorium Shores, features a five-mile run, a one-mile walk, and a Stepping Stone School Kids’ K. (See a map of related street closures below.)

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Getting out of town this weekend to join relatives for Thanksgiving?

Plan wisely – it’s one of the busiest travel days of the year. According to a report by AAA Texas, 3.4 million other Texans will also be traveling for the holidays.

Most travelers will leave for their trip on Wednesday, Nov. 27 and return on Sunday, Dec. 1. For those going out of town, 3.1 million plan to travel by car.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport set a one-day passenger record on Monday, as people streamed out of the city following the U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix.

A record high 22,759 passengers departed ABIA yesterday. That figure’s just about 1,000 passengers higher than the previous record – set the Monday following last year’s F1 race.

Project Connect

The group advising the city on urban rail has come out with initial recommendations: a transportation investment that runs from the East Riverside Corridor, through Downtown and out to the Highland Mall region.

As KUT previously reported, the recommendations began by dividing Central Austin into 10 subcorridors – similar to compass points pointing out from a center, including Downtown and the UT campus.

In the end, they chose two subcorridors for investment: Highland and East Riverside.

Roy Varney for KUT News

Disclaimer: KUT/KUTX is a sponsor of  Austin B-cycle.

The wait is over: Austinites will have a new way to beat downtown traffic come December 21.

Austin B-cycle is launching Austin’s first ever bike sharing program. There will be 11 stations located throughout downtown and south central Austin. Participants will be able to visit a station, rent a bike, ride it and return it to any station.

There’s three tiers of pricing:

  • Day pass: $8. Bikes are free to rent for their first half hour, with a $4 charge for each additional half hour.
  • Seven day pass: $25
  • Annual membership: $80
Spencer Selvidge/KUT News

Austin’s new express bus service has a launch date.

On Jan. 26. Capital Metro’s MetroRapid service will begin offering bus service at least every 15 minutes – and even more during rush hour.

The first route starts in January: it runs along North Lamar to Guadalupe to South Congress. The second route will launch later in 2014. It will run along Burnet Road to Guadalupe to South Lamar. (See a map of the routes below.)

Project Connect

Now’s your chance to name the parts of Austin that should be served by urban rail.

This week, the City of Austin and its transportation partners are inviting the public to name the subcorridor that would benefit the most from urban rail.

Planners at Project Connect, the team coordinating the city’s rail and regional transportation efforts, have identified 10 subcorridors within central Austin. Not counting downtown’s core, they are (in clockwise order): Lamar, Highland, Mueller, MLK, East Austin, the East Riverside Corridor, South Congress, South Lamar, West Austin, and Mopac. 

Last week, Forbes magazine ranked Williamson County America’s fastest-growing county. Although Williamson County’s 7.94 percent growth rate has had positive impacts on its economy, the boom has put a strain on existing infrastructure.

Yesterday, Williamson County voters responded by approving two bond packages aimed at helping county infrastructure keep up with growth. The two propositions:

  • Prop 1, adding $275 million to the county’s budget for road improvements and construction, passed with 64 percent of the vote.
  • Prop 2, earmarking $40 million to upgrade the county’s park system, passed with nearly 55 percent.

Photo by KUT News

It’s festival season, y’all – and with autumn weather cooling the city, it’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy a good book, film, or concert.

There are a number of exciting events this weekend, including the Texas Book Festival, the Austin Film Festival, a Halloween Children's Concert by the Austin Symphony Orchestra, the Run for the Water 5K and 10-mile race, and the 5th Annual Pittie Pride parade and festival ("pittie" is apparently short for pitbull dogs).

While this means that this weekend will be a great opportunity to pack up the family and head out for some quality fun, it also means that thousands of people will be pouring into the city. You can expect ample road closures in and around the Capitol and Congress Avenue area.

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

In Austin, it's a constant: Traffic.

There’s recent statewide and local efforts to mitigate congestion – which will take substantial investment and extensive construction. So despite proposals in the pipeline, traffic will continue to be a slow-going, fast-growing problem.

So, it got us wondering: What are the worst intersections in Austin? 

Texas Department of Transportation

Travis County Commissioners have approved a resolution by a vote of 4-to-0 supporting the construction of State Highway 45 Southwest.  Commissioner Gerald Daugherty pushed for the resolution, after campaigning on getting the roadway built. He says population growth and traffic congestion demands action. And he believes the road could be built while protecting natural resources, despite a pending environmental review from TxDOT and push-back from environmentalists and stakeholders in the area. 

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