Transportation

ABIA
2:39 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

F1 Exodus, Holiday Travel Means Busy Week at Austin-Bergstrom

A plane carrying Formula 1 cargo seen at ABIA.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport expects about 21,800 people will fly out today. That's far more than this year's Austin City Limits Festival exodus (some 18,000 people on Oct. 15).

ABIA processed more than 9,000 passengers between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. That’s about 3,700 more people than during that same period (actually 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.) last week.

To help with increased demand, airlines added seven flights and sent bigger planes to Austin, adding a total of more than 2,500 seats. Chartered flights included 747 and 767 jets.

The airport expects to stay busy all week as F1 fans continue to fly out and holiday travel begins.

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Transportation Security Administration
2:10 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

TSA X-Ray Body Scanners Sit Idle in Warehouse

The TSA removed X-ray body scanners from major airports, planning to shift them to smaller airports. But many of them sit in a warehouse as the agency looks into whether the manufacturer, Rapiscan Systems, falsified software tests.
tsa.gov

Last month, the Transportation Security Administration said it was moving nearly half its X-ray body scanners from some of the nation's biggest airports to smaller ones. But it turns out that more than 90 of the controversial machines will sit in a Texas warehouse indefinitely, agency officials said Thursday.

The agency says it hopes to someday deploy the warehoused machines, but even that prospect was thrown into doubt by allegations that the manufacturer, Rapiscan Systems, may have falsified tests of its experimental privacy software designed to eliminate explicit images of passengers' bodies.

The machines in the warehouse cost about $14 million total, or roughly $150,000 each.

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Courts
1:22 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Cleveland's Convicted Idiot Finishes Punishment; Says She's Learned Lesson

On Wednesday, Shena Hardin  held her sign of shame higher — as the judge said she should.
Marvin Fong The Plain Dealer /Landov

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 9:50 am

Update at 9 a.m. ET, Nov. 14: "It's A Learning Lesson ... I'll Move Forward."

Shena Hardin, the Cleveland woman ordered to stand on a street corner with a sign saying she was in idiot for driving on a sidewalk to get past a stopped school bus, finished that two-day punishment this morning and issued a statement saying she's learned a lesson.

As Cleveland's 19ActionNews reports, Hardin:

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Formula 1
4:21 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

There’s Still (Some) Room to Park Your Jet at the Airport for F1

Private plane parking is filling up at area airports in advance of F1 race weekend.
flickr.com/terryblanchard

Private jet parking at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is starting to fill up.

Airport spokesman Jim Halbrook says more than 150 private planes, ranging from corporate jets to small, propeller-driven Cessnas, have booked parking places for Formula 1 race weekend. There are still a few spots left. 

Other area airports expect to be busy, including Pflugerville's Austin Executive Airport, and airfields in Georgetown, San Marcos, and Horseshoe Bay.

For those flying commercially, Halbrook says there will be a warm Austin welcome at the baggage claim area. More than 70 volunteer hosts will be on hand to help guide visitors – many of whom will be visiting Austin for the first time – to their ground transportation and destination choices.

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Transportation
11:19 am
Mon November 12, 2012

After Weeks of Free Rides, Texas’ 85 mph Tollway Now Charging

Drivers can hold onto their quarters: SH-130 drivers pay via TxTag or through the mail.
courtesy SH 130 Concession Co.

It's been almost three weeks since the new stretch of State Highway 130 opened on Oct. 24. Now the temporary freeway is officially a tollway. And that's how it's going to stay, for the next 50 years or so.

The new segments of SH-130, which run just south of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Seguin, were free to motorists until Nov. 11. Now the the toll rate has been set at $0.15 per mile for passenger vehicles with TxTag service. Vehicles without a TxTag can also use the tollway, and will be billed through a pay-by-mail service.

"With this new road, motorists can travel 90 miles of toll road and bypass I-35 congestion between Seguin and Georgetown for about $12," the Texas Department of Transportation says in a press release.

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Transportation
3:55 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

The City Hopes These Signs and Kiosks Will Help You Navigate Downtown Austin

Design plans also include signs displaying parking garage capacity.
MERJE, via the City of Austin

The Austin City Council hopes to make downtown Austin easier to get around.

The city's Planning and Development Review Department presented progress on the Downtown Austin Wayfinding System this morning. Under this plan, inconsistent and vague signs downtown would become more uniform and detailed. Gateways into downtown (like the passage under I-35 on Seventh Street) would also get a facelift.

In addition to increased signage, the design firm the city has contracted with – Pennsylvania-based MERJE – has created signs that are in step with international logos for parking, transportation, information and more, with an Austin flair. 

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Transportation
7:46 am
Thu November 8, 2012

Drivers Beware: Dense Fog Advisory this Morning

Visibility could drop below one quarter of a mile this morning.
flickr.com/green-ghost

The National Weather Service has issued a Dense Fog Advisory for much of Central Texas this morning. The advisory is in effect until 10 a.m.

Forecasters say areas of dense fog are expected through the morning—especially along and southeast of I-35. Visibility could drop below one quarter of a mile.

Counties under the advisory:

  • Travis
  • Williamson
  • Hays
  • Bastrop
  • Lee
  • Caldwell
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Street Closures
4:22 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

Map: Komen 5K, More Events Mean Street Closures


View Street Closures for Nov. 2-4 in a larger map

A slew of events this weekend will make navigating downtown Austin a bit more challenging than usual.

The seventh annual Fun Fun Fun Fest is already underway at Auditorium Shores. Bouldin Avenue and South Fifth Street/Dawson Road are open to residents only. No festival parking is allowed in Bouldin Creek neighborhood.

Many more street closures are in effect Sunday, when the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K launches. East 18th Street from Congress Avenue to San Jacinto Boulevard and Brazos Street from MLK Jr. Boulevard to East 17th Street are first to close, at 6 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3.

Several more full and partial closures are in effect Sunday, as illustrated in the map above. Here’s a rundown of the partial closures:

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Transportation
7:30 am
Fri November 2, 2012

The Good and The Bad of More Cabs in Austin (Updated)

Cab drivers say more cabs on the street means less income and working longer hours.
Tyler Pratt for KUT News

Update (Nov. 2, 7:30 a.m.): Austin City Council members voted 5 to 2 Thursday to grant a total of 30 new taxi permits to two of the city’s cab companies.

Members of the Taxis Drivers Association of Austin had argued that there are too many cabs on the road and that they’ve seen a decline in income.

But the two cab companies say the new permits are necessary to help level the playing field between them and their larger competitor.

"[We are in favor of the vote] In order to improve our company's service to not only our passengers, but to our drivers. We've been waiting since December of last year to find out if were receiving 10 additional permits," Bertha Means of Austin Cab said.

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Transportation
1:01 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

Will 'Left Lane for Passing Only' Signs Make a Difference?

Is there any hope for Mopac? A TXDoT initiative is reminding motorists the left lane is for passing only, but the signs are mainly going up on faster highways.
Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

Here’s a mantra you may repeat to yourself in Austin traffic (likely in-between bouts of profanity): The left lane is for passing only.

Despite the fact that passing on the left is the safest practice (and the fact that Texas has prohibitions against passing on the right), it’s a practice that’s routinely disregarded – just ask any Central Texas motorist.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT) is trying to do something about that, by installing a little reminder on Texas highways: some 3,400 signs stating “Left Lane for Passing Only.”

Before you get your hopes up, here’s the rub – they’re only going up on highways with speed limits over 75 mph. That excludes Mopac and Interstate 35 as they cut through most of Central Austin.

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Transportation
2:21 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Fastest Road in the Country Now Open in Central Texas

The 41 mile portion of SH 130 takes drivers from Mustang Ridge to Seguin.
SH 130 Concession Company

The fastest road in the country is now open to drivers in Central Texas. The 85 mile per hour portion of State Highway 130 opened this morning.

The toll road stretches across about 41 miles from Mustang Ridge to Seguin. It will soon cost drivers 15 cents per mile—or $6.17 to drive the length of the road—but it’s free through Nov. 10th.

Eighteen-wheelers will be charged 60 cents per mile. But, as reported last month, truckers may avoid the toll road altogether because driving over 65 mph reduces fuel efficiency and also raises safety concerns.

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Formula 1
12:29 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

Cap Metro Rolls Out Mobile Ticketing for F1 Week

Cap Metro is giving mobile ticketing a trial run over November's F1 race and South by Southwest next year, with an eye toward making it a permanent feature.
Capital Metro

Capital Metro is prepping for the traffic nightmare that’s likely to be Formula 1 weekend in Austin.

The transit company will be offering a free shuttle loop around downtown to help visitors and Austinites navigate road closures. Cap Metro will also increase trips to and from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, for race fans coming into town and locals heading out to avoid the mayhem. And, for the first time ever, MetroRail will operate on a Sunday.

But what may be most interesting to those who rely regularly on Capital Metro service is that the company is debuting a mobile ticketing app for use during F1.

M² (pronounced M-squared) stands for More Mobile App. Starting Oct. 31, the free app will be available in the Apple Store and in Google Play. While the specifics of how the app will work aren’t yet clear – Cap Metro’s description only says “Operators may request you to tap the screen to confirm pass authenticity” – riders will be able to purchase and use one-day or seven-day passes on their phones.

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Road Closures
8:48 am
Fri October 19, 2012

Highway 183 in Cedar Park Closed at 9 a.m.

View Truck Convoy Route (i.e., where to avoid) in a larger map

A stretch of US 183 in Cedar Park will be closed this morning.

Starting at 9 a.m., 183 will shut down between the Leander city limit and RM 620. The freeway will stay closed until sometime around noon.

The closure is needed to make room for two trucks carrying oversize loads. Power lines and stoplights need to be lifted along the route to allow the trucks to pass underneath.

Intersections and sections of the highway will be open before and after the trucks pass through each intersection, but traffic will be unable to pass the trucks in either direction.

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Transportation
9:48 am
Tue October 16, 2012

TxDOT Looking at High-Speed Rail from Oklahoma to Texas

A map from the Federal Railroad Administration’s High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program. A rail line from Texas to Oklahoma is earmarked for study.
Federal Railroad Administration

The Texas Department of Transportation has moved one step closer towards the idea of using rail as an option to address highway congestion on Interstate 35. The news comes as the TxDOT kicks off a $14 million, two-year study to explore the possibility of passenger rail service from Oklahoma City to South Texas.

The study will examine the best possible options for the development of passenger trains that will connect metropolitan areas such as the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Austin, and San Antonio.  The analysis will compare different types of services, including both a new high-speed rail system and existing Amtrak routes.

John Barton, TxDOT deputy executive director and chief engineer, says “passenger rail [is] a strategic component for the future of Texas transportation.”

The rail study is partially funded by a $5.6 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration’s High Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program, and a 20 percent match by TxDOT.

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Transportation
7:46 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Expect Long Lines at ABIA Today for Post-ACL Exodus

Taxis line up outside of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Ihwa Cheng for KUT News

Mondays are typically one of the busiest days at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. And officials say today will be especially busy—as folks who were in town for the Austin City Limits Music Festival head out.

ABIA officials are expecting longer-than-normal security waits—as much as an hour long. To have time to check in and go through security, the airport is asking everyone to arrive at least two hours ahead of their scheduled flight.

Tweets from early-morning travelers are confirming the airport's predictions:

"Airport is insanely busy today .. Like 400 people waiting in security ..," tweeted @austin_dsouza.

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Austin City Limits
4:43 pm
Sat October 13, 2012

What You Need to Know to Get Around this ACL Weekend

Fans crowd a stage at the 2011 Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Sean C. Murphy for KUT News

With 70,000 people making their way there each day, you can expect heavy traffic this weekend as people head down to the Austin City Limits Music Festival. 

Big delays around ACL host Zilker Park are a given. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Catch the Bus: Roads will also be closed around Republic Square Park at Fifth Street and Guadalupe Street to make room for Capital Metro's free ACL Shuttle at downtown. The shuttle drops off at ACL’s doorstep in Zilker Park.
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Transportation
1:23 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Austin Police Give Thumbs Down to Texting While Driving

Not only is texting while driving dangerous, it may cost you $500. Police encourage drivers to wear thumb bands like this one as a reminder not to text.

With woolly traffic expected this weekend, city officials are reminding Austin drivers that texting while driving is banned under city law.

Texting while driving is a class C misdemeanor, which means offenders could face up to a $500 fine. And smart phone users should know that all "electronic messaging" is banned. That means no email, no Facebook, no ACL Festival iPhone app, and especially no Words With Friends behind the wheel.

Police Chief Art Acevedo asked drivers to be especially aware of pedestrians around Zilker Park this weekend, which, of course, is hosting the Austin City Limits Music Festival this weekend. Acevedo says crashes are likely to happen when texters look up from their phones and overcorrect.

To remind drivers not to text, Acevedo sported an orange thumb band, and encouraged others to do the same. 

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Transportation
12:16 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Cap Metro Wants Your Ideas for Fighting Traffic in North Austin

If MoPac really moved like this, Capital Metro wouldn't be funding a study on traffic in North Austin and its suburbs.
flickr.com/jorgemichel

Capital Metro is reaching out to residents in the suburbs north of Austin for input on possible transit options for connecting them to Central Austin. Cap Metro says it’s the number one transportation priority for the region. The big reason? A lot of people may live in Williamson County, but many of them work in Travis County.

Cap Metro has already heard from people during traditional open houses. Now, the transit company is seeking input through a website – what it’s calling an “Online Open House.”

The website lets visitors control what looks like a sort of power point presentation. It highlights a few problems: congestion, rapid population growth and the restraints of the current highway system.

But what Cap Metro says it’s really interested in is feedback. One of the most interesting forms of feedback that commuters can give is on the site’s “Interactive Map.” Website visitors are invited to draw in suggested transportation alternatives for getting around in the North Corridor during rush hour.

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Transportation
12:54 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Texas' 85 mph Highway Opening Later This Month

The dotted line south of the airport is under construction no more: SH 130 opens Oct. 24.
SH 130 Concession Company

The latest toll road in Central Texas is set to open later this month.

Operators of the newest segment to State Highway 130 – from Mustang Ridge to Interstate 10 near Seguin – announced this morning the road will be open on Oct. 24.

The 41-mile segment has gained national notoriety because it will have a posted speed limit of 85 miles an hour. As KUT News previoisly reported, It took a new law, passed in 2011, to get the new speed limit in place. 

The San Antonio Express-News reports that the toll road will be free through Nov. 11. 

Urban Rail
2:26 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Council Member Asks: Are Urban Rail Plans 'Putting the Cart Before the Horse?'

An prototype rail vehicle on display in Austin. City leaders are wrestling with whether to make another rail investment.
Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

The Austin City Council will consider Thursday whether to authorize an agreement with Capital Metro to spend $5 million for urban rail planning. The bulk of the money ($4 million) will come from a federal grant that requires a local match of 20 percent ($1 million).

So why spend such a large sum when previous money hasn’t produced any visible results? That was a question raised by council member Bill Spelman at council’s work session Tuesday. “A lot of people are concerned that we are putting the cart before of the horse,” he said. “We are spending four million dollars when we really haven’t decided what to do”.            

In May, the city released recommended routes for the first two phases of Urban Rail. Robert Spillar is the director of the city’s Transportation Department, and he sees the release of the money as the next step. At Tuesday’s work session he said getting the city’s stamp of approval would allow the Transportation Department to “restart” the alternatives analysis. 

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