urbanism

Transportation
1:42 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Austin One Step Closer to Creating Pedestrian Advisory Council

A pedestrian advisory council would inform the city on what works for walkability – and what doesn’t.
flickr.com/boedker

The City of Austin is looking to create a pedestrian advisory council.

The pedestrian group would look at safety and walkability issues, making recommendations to city staff and the City Council. The proposal comes as city policy prioritizes denser, more walkable development – and also at a time when pedestrian deaths are on people’s minds: There were 78 traffic deaths (including pedestrians) in Austin last year.

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Austin
2:53 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Slideshow: 10 Breathtaking Visions for the Seaholm Intake Structures

BOKA Powell + Design Workshop’s “Lakehouse” includes an event deck on Lady Bird Lake.
BOKA Powell + Design Workshop/City of Austin

Update: The city has named three finalists in its design contest reimagining the Seaholm Intake Structures. The three finalists are:

  • “Link,” Gumbully
  • “The Lakehouse,” BOKA Powell + Design Workshop
  • “Intake,” Gensler

Take a look at the three winning entries in the slideshow above, which are expected to inform the redevelopment of the structures. The Parks and Recreation Department says it will issue a proposal for public-private partnerships for the intake structures in the near future.  

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Transportation
3:05 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

A Deeper Look at Austin Plans to Bury I-35

Architect Sinclair Black’s “cut and cap” plan places access roads directly over the capped portion of I-35, freeing up more developable space.
Reconnect Austin

Austin traffic can be awful. And Austin drivers know that a great part of that congestion comes from stop-and-go traffic on Interstate 35.

Big problems demand big solutions – and the "cut and cap" proposal to bury I-35 is gaining momentum. The plan, developed by Austin architect Sinclair Black would “cut” I-35 from Cesar Chavez to 12th Street. Those lanes would then be built underground, and “capped” by something. The Austin City Council OK’d a closer look at the plan back in June.

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Austin
11:53 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Austin - Soon You’ll Be Able to Irrigate the Yard With Your Washing Machine Wastewater

An upscale greywater garden, built in Los Angeles.
flickr.com/jeremylevinedesign

In an eco-friendly city like Austin, you’d think reclaimed water systems for the home would be a no-brainer. Instead, the entire city has only one fully licensed greywater system. But that could soon change.

Greywater systems (or graywater, or grey water – there’s no universally accepted spelling) take used water from sinks, showers and washing machines and funnel it to uses like landscaping instead of sending it down the drain. (Greywater doesn’t include toilet water.)

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Transportation
12:29 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Austin Ranks 31st in Walkability

Austin ranked 31st in a national survey of "walkable" cities.
flickr.com/austins_only_paper/

It’s official. Austin’s not very walkable.

In fact, it’s no walker’s paradise, according to a national survey.   

According to the Walk Score national survey, Austin garnered only a “car-dependent” 47 percent ranking out of 100 -- ranking 31st out of the 50 biggest cities in the U.S.

Some of the highest scores were found around the 40 Acres – West Campus, North Campus, and the UT campus itself ranked in the top five most walkable areas of town.

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Transportation
5:15 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Austin Aims to Cut Back on Downtown Commuter Parking

A directional arrow inside parking garage in downtown Austin. Incentives for businesses encouraging car sharing and alternatives are getting a tryout at City Hall.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

The Austin City Council is experimenting with a plan to reduce the availability of parking. Today, it approved a pilot program discussed last meeting “to reduce parking requirements for commercial businesses utilizing trip-reduction strategies.”

Council member Laura Morrison said the program was designed “to work with businesses around town and do a pilot in terms of allowing a reduction in their parking if there are mobility friendly amenities added.”

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Transportation
5:46 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Austin Traffic Calming Seeks to Soothe Neighborhood Traffic – And Aggrieve Speeding Drivers

A combination of new street islands and speed bumps are meant to deter drivers from speeding. This project is off of Woodward Street, across from the St. Edwards University campus.
Joy Diaz, KUT News

Story as it aired on KUT News 90.5 FM

More than a dozen streets in Austin are about to be invaded with bulldozers whose mission is to re-shape them. Once the streets are re-worked, the hope is they will in turn help slow down the drivers who use them. On the first week of April, the city will unveil which so-called “traffic calming” projects it will fund.

Twice a year, Austin’s Transportation Renee Orr reviews dozens of applications from Austinites who believe their streets would be safer if there were a way to make drivers slow down.

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Austin City Council
5:22 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

City Council Examines Alley Activation & Parking Overload

Seattle developed this concept art when the city began "activating" its alleyways in 2010.
UW Green Futures Lab/Scan Design Foundation/Gehl Architects

The Austin City Council had parking on its mind today. And now Austin is one step closer to eliminating minimum parking requirements for many downtown businesses, and looking at a program could to lessen the number of cars entering downtown. 

Pilot Parking Program

The council heard a briefing on parking program encouraging businesses to reduce car commuting. The program could begin as soon as April, if the council approves a measure next week.

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Austin
10:15 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Can the Lowly Alleyway Transform Downtown Austin?

An art installation called “20ft Wide” is planned for an alley on Ninth Street between Congress and Brazos Streeets.
Art Alliance Austin/Creative Action and TBG/Dan Cheetham (Fyoog) and Michelle Tarsney

Why is Austin considering an alley "master plan?"

When you think about downtown Austin, do you ever think about the spaces between the buildings?

Probably not, and you're not alone. That’s may be because alleyways – in movies, and sometimes in real life – are usually shady, dirty and even dangerous places. But some local leaders want to bring the city’s alleys back into the light.

In an alley downtown, I met with Meredith Powell and Dan Cheetham. Powell is with the Art Alliance Austin. The alley, she says “was laid out in the original 1839 map by Edwin Waller and it is on Ninth Street between Brazos and Congress.”

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Austin
1:28 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Meet The Man Looking to Make Austin a More Walkable City

An artist's rendering shows how one Dallas intersection could be revamped for walkability.
Walkable and Livable Communities Institute

Story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM

During 2012 alone, 22 pedestrians were killed in Austin. As a means of transportation, or commuting to and from work, walking is tough. The city is too spread out, and outside the urban core, the transportation system doesn’t encourage walking. 

But some Austin officials want to change that. That’s why they invited a “walkability” expert to learn how some streets can be transformed into walkable spaces. 

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Downtown
2:48 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

How Downtown Austin Lost Two Parking Spaces - And Gained a 'Parklet'

Patrons utilize the new street patio installed on Congress Avenue.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

609 Congress Ave. has its two parking spots occupied – and you can circle the block all you want, but you won’t get a space there.

That’s because the two spots in front of the Royal Blue Grocery have been converted into a street patio. With the city’s blessing, Royal Blue has converted the spots as part of a pilot program testing the feasibility of future conversions.

The idea behind the street patio is to make the city more pedestrian-friendly and less auto-centric. “The two parking spaces at 609 Congress are estimated to have housed about five cars per day total,” reads a release from the office of Chris Riley, the Austin City Council’s resident urban design wonk. “If this ‘street patio’ performs as successfully as the ones in other cities have, that space will be opened up to hundreds of people to use each day.”

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Austin
2:59 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

After Long Wait, City Panel Moves to Sell East 12th Street Properties

View E. 12th Street Properties in a larger map

Two tracts of land on East 12th Street were the focus of a special meeting today by the Urban Renewal Board, a panel whose responsibility is to "eliminate slum and blighting influence" in parts of the city.  The board took possession of the properties years ago in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood. Critics have accused the board and other agencies of taking too long to turn over the properties, and have questioned their role in the face of Eastside gentrification.

The  board voted to sell two tracts of property on East 12th Street two completely different ways. The stretch of land on the 1100 hundred block will be sold to the highest bidder.

The lot on the 1300 hundred block will be opened for a request of proposals. That means the board will take into consideration not only the how much money is being offered for the land, but also what the developer plans on doing with it and how that could affect the neighborhood. The board could take a lower bid if they think the development plan is a better fit for the area.

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Transportation
11:29 am
Mon April 2, 2012

Learn About 'The High Cost of Free Parking' Tonight

Professor Donald Shoup (left) argues parking should be priced to reflect its true cost.
Shoup photo courtesy shoup.bol.ucla.edu; parking photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

There’s no such thing as a free lunch – and no such thing as free parking, according to an influential author speaking in Austin today.

The Urban Transportation Commission and City Council Member Chris Riley are hosting a conversation this evening with Donald Shoup. Shoup’s 2005 book, The High Cost of Free Parking, argues that on-street parking is a valuable commodity in cities, and should be priced accordingly to cut down on traffic congestion and pollution.

KUT News spoke with Shoup this morning. He noted the University  of Texas campus was a perfect example of some of the arguments he’s made.

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Austin
3:12 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Colorado Street Down to One Lane While 'Great Streets' Project Starts

Similar to Second Street, walkways, roads and infrastructure are being improved on Colorado Street
Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Travel down one-way Colorado Street will be restricted though the end of June, as the city readies $6 million worth of improvements.

Only one lane will be open between Third and Fifth Street, while the Colorado Street Reconstruction Project gets underway.

Approved by the Austin City Council in December, the initiative is part of the city’s Great Streets project, creating pedestrian-friendly streets similar to those on Second Street, seen above. 

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Austin
12:41 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Patio, Parking or 'Parklet?' Council Considers Urban Spot Conversions

A San Francisco parklet.
Photo courtesy sfplanning.org

Among the items on the Austin City Council’s work session this morning was a pilot program allowing Royal Blue Grocery to convert two parking spaces outside its doors on Congress Avenue into a patio.

Or is it more of a “parklet?”

“If you google ‘parklets,’ you’ll find a number of examples from around the country,” said council member Chris Riley.

Parklets are prevalent in San Francisco. The city’s Planning Department has loads of information online pertaining to completed parklets, resources for would-be parklet builders, and a FAQ about parklets.

But “that’s a somewhat different situation,” Riley noted.

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