Traffic

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Weigh In on Downtown Wayfinding

The City of Austin is hosting a community forum tonight on the Downtown Austin Wayfinding Program, asking residents to sound off on the “draft philosophy” of the plan.

What is wayfinding? It’s an effort to better direct commuters and visitors through downtown, pointing pedestrians and cyclists to the best travel paths, and drivers to parking spots. The city states:

Over the past few months, the Downtown Wayfinding Project team has analyzed existing conditions in and around Downtown Austin and interviewed stakeholders in the community to gain an understanding of how commuters, residents, visitors, and tourists move through downtown. From that, the team has drafted a philosophy for navigating Downtown Austin that will serve as a foundation for developing acomprehensivewayfinding system.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/atmtx

In an effort to improve pedestrian safety and calm traffic, the city’s putting the squeeze on South Congress.

Construction starts today on an eight to 12-month project to “bulb-out,” or extend curbs on streets intersecting South Congress, shortening the crossing distance for pedestrians from 90 feet to 57 feet. The bulbs will take the form of concrete islands providing "pedestrian refuges," according to the city.

Of course, construction means traffic delays. The city states “One lane of traffic will be closed on S. Congress in the area where the contractor is working and one lane of traffic will be closed on the cross-streets with detours for the cross-streets.” Does that mean the bulbs are calming traffic already?

View Sixth Street Lane Closures in a larger map.

If traffic downtown wasn’t bad enough already: Three lanes are closed on Sixth Street, from Guadalupe to Nueces while the city makes emergency repairs. And the lanes won’t reopen until well after afternoon rush hour.  

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A short-term improvement for a chronically clogged intersection in southwest Austin is one step closer to becoming reality. Travis County Commissioners voted today to contribute $1.5 million for renovations to the “The Y” in Oak Hill -- the area where highways US 290 and SH 71 converge.

The City of Austin is kicking in $2.6 million for the $4.7 million project that will be carried out by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). 

“I think people should be really excited about this,” Travis County Commissioner Karen Huber said. “It will help.”

Photo by KUT News

Ever wish you could know about a major traffic jam before you get stuck in one? The City of Austin's Transportation Department hopes it can help you do that by installing 13 electronic signs around the city.

By March of next year, drivers passing by these intersections will be informed of real-time traffic jams, construction, weather conditions, special events, as well as detour routes.

"One of the challenges with downtown Austin is that we are at capacity," Transportation Department spokesperson Leah Fillion said.

This map shows the areas of Loop 360 that would be affected by any changes.

As many commuters know well, traffic can be miserable in Austin. In 2010 INRIX, a traffic and congestion software research company, ranked the Austin metro area 26th for worst congestion nation-wide. Here is one commuter's video of sitting in traffic on Texas State Highway Loop 360:

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Austin’s merciless summer is over and that means more people are planning outdoor weekend events. This Saturday, Austin will host eight events downtown, setting a record for the number of simultaneous street closures. That's according to the city’s transportation department.

Photo by KUT

If you’re heading to Dallas this weekend to see the Texas Longhorns take on the Oklahoma Sooners, the Texas Department of Transportation says you may encounter about 30 miles of construction on your way.

Crews will not actually be working on road renovation projects along the route, but there may be lane reductions which could cause traffic congestion. Extra traffic from people heading to the game could make those slowdowns move well, slower  than usual.

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

It’s one of Austin’s favorite things to complain about: gridlock on the interstate. Just yesterday, we learned how the average person wastes 38 hours a year stuck in traffic in Austin.  A good percentage of that is spent idling on that north-south thoroughfare.

Photo by KUT News

You might have lost your job and your home in the economic downturn, but at least you’re not spending as much time in traffic. The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) at Texas A&M University released its annual Urban Mobility Report today. While it might seem hard to believe to those stuck in traffic, TTI found that congestion is lower in Austin than it was five years ago.

In 2010, the average Austinite wasted 38 hours – almost an entire work week in traffic – according to TTI. In 2005, the number was 52 hours.  Over the same period of time, Travis County's unemployment rate rose from about 4.5 percent in 2005 to around 7 percent in 2010.

This map shows lane closures around the W Hotel and the location of a "flash mob" rush hour water fight.

After glass fell from the W Hotel for the third time in just over two weeks yesterday, the city is taking no chances and is closing lanes around the building until further notice. But one of the alternative routes also happens to be where a group of people are planning an impromptu water fight during rush hour.

From the Austin Transportation Department, here are the closures:

This map shows the detour routes in green and the closures in red.

Interstate 35 at Ben White Blvd. will be closed again this weekend for construction work on flyovers intended to connect I-35 with US 290. 

Here’s what will happen as of 8 pm tonight, according to the Texas Department of Transportation:

View Rio Grande and 24th St. Closure in a larger map

It might be harder to cruise around West Campus this weekend when a major intersection shuts down for construction.

Beginning on Friday at 9 am, the intersection at Rio Grande St. and 24th St. will be closed and will not reopen until Monday at 6 am. The street is being closed because crews are working on water lines, storm drains and road reconstruction.

View South Congress repaving in a larger map

Update at 12:48 pm: The City of Austin has announced it is delaying a repaving project on S. Congress Ave. by as much as a week. Work crews found problems with water lines feeding into the 12-inch water main that runs under S. Congress Ave, and those must now be repaired. The repaving project was going to cause lane closures, and now repairs to water infrastructure will create some construction slowdowns.

"Right now we're looking at [delays] of anywhere from a couple of days to a week, depending on how long it takes the water utility to complete those repairs," Public Works spokesperson Sara Hartley told KUT News.

Harley says the city will revaluate the repaving schedule, and expects to issue a revised timeline later this week.

Earlier: Give yourself a little extra time if you have to drive down S. Congress Ave. between now and mid-July. The City of Austin is re-paving a stretch the road from Riverside Dr. to Oltorf St. Starting today, northbound lanes will be reduced from 8:30 am to 7 pm. Southbound lane closures will be in effect from 7 am until 4 pm.

The city is re-paving the road in portions, starting first with a stretch between Oltorf St. and Annie St. and gradually moving north. The construction will be completed in three phases, as indicated by the different colors on the map.

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Interstate 35 is likely to be more congested than usual this weekend because of a flurry of activities at the University of Texas and a construction closure of I-35 at Ben White Blvd.

Not only are there commencement activities at UT Austin this weekend, but there’s also baseball and softball games.

If you’re passing through Kyle next week anytime between 9 pm and 6 am, you may want to give yourself extra time to get to your destination. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) says it will be closing Interstate 35 northbound for two days and then closing it southbound for two days after that.  Here is the full schedule.

Get used to seeing these signs if you spend time downtown. The city is temporarily installing 44 of them to direct people to off-street parking. Staff hopes it will help reduce what they call "extraneous traffic circulation." In other words, people circling the block looking for a spot on the street.

View Austin Street Closures - Texas Roundup 2011 in a larger map

The Texas Roundup 5K will close several streets downtown Saturday morning. Check out the map above for details. Blue lines are partial closures. Red lines are full closures. You can a street closure for the exact times, but everything is scheduled to be reopened by 11 a.m.

View Austin Street Closures For Texas Relays 2011 in a larger map

The Texas Relays are not just a serious competition for track and field athletes. The annual event has also become a celebration of southern car culture. All those slabs cruising through downtown can make it very difficult to navigate the area. This year, Austin police say they are taking extra measures to try to mitigate the gridlock.

Heads up from the City of Austin. You won't be able to drive west on Oltorf this weekend from I-35. You will be able to drive east but traffic could be slower than usual.  Here's the full release.

flickr user 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.

City Officials are Wondering What to do with MoPac
Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Many Austin motorists have found themselves stopped on MoPac Expressway, the North-South road that is intended to alleviate traffic on its cross-town alternative, Interstate 35.

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