Transportation

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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Formula 1
12:18 pm
Mon October 8, 2012

Circuit of the Americas' Seven F1 Transportation Tips

Brace yourself, F1 fans: This shot of the track at COTA may be the last empty roadway you see for a while.
circuitoftheamericas.com

Ready for the insane crush of traffic expected during Austin's inaugural Formula One event in November? The airport says it is. Cap Metro does too. But what about racing fans? In case they need help, the hosts of the Grand Prix unveiled some general guidance this morning, which you may or may not find to be the most obvious advice imaginable. 

F1 track owners Circuit of the Americas issued a statement today detailing a “comprehensive plan” to expedite  traffic to the track. The COTA team’s general guidelines include:

  • Carpooling to the COTA site
  • Budgeting enough time. “Attendees should expect to add at least one hour to their travel time to get to their shuttle Park + Ride location and at least 90 minutes to get from their lodgings to the Circuit with an on-site parking pass.”
  • Not bringing stuff you’re not supposed to (Booze, animals, "illegal substances")
  • Using the directions you’re given with your ticket. “Please follow printing directions rather than GPS-identified routes.”
  • Expecting traffic and its delays
  • Planning to spend all day at the Circuit
  • Dressing appropriately, presumably so you won’t need to leave the premises.
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Formula 1
2:49 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Cap Metro Offers Ways to Get Around During F1

Capital Metro is offering expanded service during Formula 1 weekend. Which vehicle will get you around faster?
bus photo Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News; F1 photo flickr.com/paulwoolrich

More than 120,000 people are expected to flock to the Austin area for the upcoming Formula 1 Grand Prix. And you can bet that many of those visitors will want to take in Austin’s downtown scene.

So while the cars on the Circuit of the Americas track will reach speeds of around 200 miles per hour, the traffic that comes with all those visitors could mean chugging along at a snail’s pace downtown. That is, on the roads that remain open—most of Congress Avenue will be closed from the capitol to the lake over race weekend. And many East-West streets will be partially shut down between Lavaca Street and Neches Street.

Capital Metro is expanding bus and rail service to help.

Visitors (or Austinites getting out of town in an effort to avoid the mayhem) can take advantage of a $1 bus service running between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and downtown.

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Transportation
10:29 am
Wed October 3, 2012

Study: Bad Road Conditions Cost Austinites $1,200 a Year

Though construction is a common sight along Austin roads, a study finds several roads are in need of serious repair.
KUT News

Austin’s roads cost each local driver $1,200 a year. That's according to TRIP, a highway industry nonprofit. The organization also found that deficient roads in Texas cost drivers a total of $23 billion each year.

The report says poor road conditions cause accidents and additional traffic which lead to longer commute times and greater fuel usage. Substandard roads can also result in more wear and tear to vehicles and tires, resulting in higher maintenance costs. 

Overall, TRIP found that 18 percent of Texas’s major urban roads are in poor condition, while 27 percent are considered mediocre. Though $1,200 a year isn't chump change, the report still found Austin has the fewest number of roads in poor condition with nine percent. San Antonio ranks highest, with 33 percent of its roads in poor condition. 

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Transportation
9:02 am
Tue October 2, 2012

Overnight Crashes Leave Three Dead

Two pedestrians died crossing area highways, while another man died crashing a truck yesterday.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

It was a dangerous night on Austin roads as three separate incidents lead to three deaths.

The lower deck of Interstate 35 was closed at the split this morning, due to a fatality in the 3200 block of the interstate.

KXAN spoke with Austin Police Sgt. Daniel Watson; he told the station a man was “running in the lanes” along the interstate, near St. David’s Hospital, and was killed after getting hit by a truck. The motorist stayed at the scene and cooperated with authorities.

In southeast Travis County, another pedestrian and auto collision occurred at Highway 71 East and FM 973. The incident closed all westbound lanes of Highway 71. According to the Austin American-Statesman, the pedestrian was also in the road, and the driver also remained on the scene.

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Transportation
1:55 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

A Boom on Texas Roads

Interstate 10 east of downtown in Houston, Dec. 6, 2011.
Michael Stravato

The baby boom — that fat lump that has been moving through the demographic snake since the end of World War II — is now made up of people between 45 and 65 years old, give or take.

They are starting to retire, prompting some of the growing conversations about pensions. Their bodies are getting old, which explains some of the ballooning advertising about drugs for this or that. Seen all the hearing aid ads in the paper? Products for gray hair? Couples sitting in bathtubs next to lakes?

As of 2010, 13 percent of the nation’s population was 65 or older. By 2030, demographers reckon that group will account for 19.3 percent of the population. Boomers are not babies anymore — and there are some public policy ramifications.

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Transportation
3:50 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

American Airlines Fliers Fed Up as Labor Clash Rages

American Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at Miami International Airport this month. Reports indicate that American Airlines has canceled somewhere between 2 and 5 percent of flights in recent days, reportedly blaming a surge in pilot sick days and maintenance write-ups by pilots.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 11:37 am

Pat Henneberry is an airline's dream customer. She flies all week, every week, and buying an $800 ticket so that she can have full flexibility is standard operating procedure. She's an American Airlines platinum customer. But she is fed up with the endless delays and cancellations.

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Transportation
10:14 am
Thu September 27, 2012

With 85 MPH Speed Limit, Trucks May Avoid New Toll Road

Max Ually via Texas Tribune

In a matter of weeks, a 41-mile stretch of toll road with the fastest speed limit in the country will open in Central Texas.

But truck drivers may steer clear of the new high-speed road, said John Esparza, president of the Texas Motor Transportation Association, which represents the trucking industry in Texas.

“It’s going to be a deterrent, yes,” Esparza said of the road’s 85 mph speed limit.

The Texas Department of Transportation has said it pursued a higher speed limit for the new portion of State Highway 130 from Austin to Seguin in part to entice drivers away from more congested highways. Agency officials have said engineering tests demonstrated that an 85-mph speed limit is safe for the new toll road.

While he acknowledged that some truck drivers drive faster than 65 mph, most trucking companies try to keep drivers from traveling faster than that speed, both out of concerns for safety and because it reduces a truck's gas mileage, Esparza said. 

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Transportation
6:18 am
Thu September 27, 2012

Fuel Spill Shuts Down NB I-35 From FM 1327 to Slaughter

Northbound I-35 is closed from FM 1327 through Slaughter.
Map Data @2012 Google

Update (8:47 a.m.): Austin Police say the northbound lanes of I-35 are now open. The frontage road is still closed, however, until further notice.

Update (8:36 a.m.): AISD says Blazier Elementary School is being affected by the shutdown of I-35 - but the school is still open. The district says some buses headed for the school have been delayed, but classes have begun on time and buses are still going to the school. Buses that have not shown up to pick up students yet will be there eventually, the district says.

Update (7:53 a.m.): The City of Austin Transportation Department is controlling traffic lights on South 1st Street and Manchaca Road to give northbound drivers longer green lights.

Update (7:35 a.m.): Meantime, KUT News is confirming reports about a second incident causing delays on southbound I-35 between U.S. 183 and Rundberg Lane.

Update (7:10 a.m.): TxDOT is now waiving tolls on State Highway 45 Southeast and State Highway 130 between U.S. 183 and State Highway 71 while part of northbound I-35 is shut down this morning.

Update (6:25 a.m.): The Austin Fire Department says the overturned truck has spilled at least 700 gallons of fuel. It was carrying as much as 9,600 gallons of diesel, gasoline and ethanol. Emergency crews are trying to transfer the fuel to another trailer and have no estimate on how long that will take.

Original post (6:18 a.m.): A gas spill on northbound I-35 is expected to cause traffic delays through rush hour this morning.

Austin Police say northbound I-35 traffic including the frontage road will be diverted starting at FM 1327—that’s just north of State Highway 45.

Drivers won’t be allowed back on the highway until just north of Slaughter Lane.

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Transportation
12:52 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

When Will the Driverless Car Travel to Texas?

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute is traveling to California to learn about Google's driverless car, pictured above.
flickr.com/jurvetson

Robots can perform surgerybuild machinerytrade stocks, and even write news stories. And now they can drive cars.

California legalized so-called self-driving cars yesterday. Nevada has actually issued a drivers license to a robot car. And while Texas isn't exactly stepping on the gas with regards to driverless cars, it isn't stuck in neutral either.

The only traffic-ready self-driving car is currently offered made Google – although it’s not for sale. The system uses sensors and computers to navigate through traffic. Current laws require a human to sit in the driver’s seat, in case something goes haywire with the computer.

Google says its fleet of six Toyota Priuses, an Audi TT, and a Lexus RX450 hybrid have logged more than 300,000 trouble-free miles. There have been two collisions, but the company says that neither was the robot driver’s fault.

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Transportation
9:59 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Fares, Services Flat in 'Lean' Cap Metro Budget

The Cap Metro board is expected to adopt a no-frills budget this afternoon.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Capital Metro Board of Directors is meeting this afternoon to adopt the transit company’s budget for the 2013 fiscal year.

The proposed budget won’t increase fares and doesn’t include any service additions or reductions.

Cap Metro says 2013 will be a “lean” year as the company focuses on maintenance and updating its fleet of buses.

"While our revenues from sales tax and other sources are healthy for next year, it is sort of a lean year for us in that we have a number of maintenance and state of good repair type of investments that need to be made. So we'll be buying new buses, making some technology upgrades, ultimately it means better service out on the streets of Austin and on the railroad of Austin but nothing super exciting this year," Capital Metro Spokesperson Erica Macioge says.

Transportation
10:12 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Cap Metro Breaks Ground on Rapid Bus Station

A rendering of a MetroRapid bus stop, which will feature real-time info on bus arrivals.
Capital Metro

Capital Metro is holding a ceremonial groundbreaking  for its MetroRapid service this morning. Construction on the rapid bus line’s first station started this week.

As KUT News previously reported, MetroRapid will launch in 2014 with two rapid bus routes. One will stretch from the Tech Ridge Park & Ride to the Southpark Meadows shopping center. The other route will run from North Austin Medical Center at Parmer Lane to Westgate Mall off South Lamar Boulevard. The lines will converge midpoint, around the UT-Austin campus area.

Cap Metro will add 40 new buses to its fleet, including 20 buses that span 60 feet and have 58 seats. Still, Cap Metro says 2013 will be a lean year for the company as it makes some repairs and upgrades.

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Transportation
2:44 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

At 85 mph, Texas Has the Fastest Road in the Nation

When a Central Texas toll road opens in the fall, drivers will enjoy the highest speed limit in the nation.

A new toll road is opening soon in Central Texas, stretching from Austin to the town of Seguin, outside of San Antonio.

State Highway 130 was built to relieve traffic along neighboring Interstate 35, one of the most congested roadways in Texas. But this stretch of toll road has a draw of its own: It recently had its speed limit approved at 85 mph, the fastest in the nation.

The dream of barreling down an open road at 85 mph is undoubtedly appealing to gridlock-prone Texas motorists. (Portions of SH 130 are already open - with a slightly lower speed - but have seen relatively scant traffic.)

Hoping that dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare is Russ Rader, spokesperson for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a non-profit highway research group funded by the auto insurance industry. He notes that speed limits have been on the increase for some time.

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Transportation
1:17 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

This Austin Street is One of Texas' Most Congested. But Do You Know Where it Is?

You've likely been trapped in its traffic recently, but could you describe where SL 343 is?
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) names several Austin roads in its list of the "100 Most Congested Roadway Segments in Texas" today. One of the local offenders, clocking in at 68th worst, is State Loop 343.

Now who can tell us where SL 343 is?

Once you learn, you won’t be surprised by the loop's inclusion on this gridlocked list: SL 343 is the whole of South Lamar Boulevard. Starting at its southern limit at SH 71 and US 290, SL 343 travels north, turning east at First Street/Cesar Chavez, until it ends at I-35.   

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Transportation
2:26 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

More Details Emerge in MetroRail Crash

A cameraphone image of the April 30 collision.
Photo courtesy Twitter user JenelleS_KVUE, http://yfrog.com/mnhspfwj

This spring, Austinite Jeremy Barta was killed when a MetroRail commuter train collided with his car while it was stuck on the tracks at a private rail crossing. Barta’s two children also suffered in the accident. The train engineer was cleared in an internal Cap Metro investigation, despite a malfunction of the train’s camera system.

In a report today, the Austin American-Statesman raises new questions about the crash. 

According to police reports, the engineer didn’t immediately apply the brakes as soon as he saw the car on the tracks:

The engineer, Kazi Adnan Jahangir, 43, applied the train's emergency brakes and sounded the horn and bells only after realizing that the white Ford Taurus, driven by Jeremy Barta, might not move off the tracks, the documents said.

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