Traffic

flickr.com/mirsasha

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, better known as CAMPO, last night approved its MoPac Improvement Project.

The project will put a managed toll lane in each direction on MoPac, from Cesar Chavez to Parmer Lane. Toll pricing would be adjusted based upon MoPac's level of congestion at the time of use. The hope is to make traffic on the entire freeway move faster.

The $200 million project was put together by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and is being paid for by state and federal funding. The agreement between the mobility authority and CAMPO also creates an infrastructure fund. Basically, $230 million in money collected from tolls on MoPac over the first 25 years of its operation will be used to pay for other transportation projects in the area.

Emily Donahue for KUT News

Fatalities from traffic crashes in Austin are up this year – especially in incidents involving pedestrians.

After the deaths of three motorcyclists and one pedestrian over the weekend, the number of people killed in Austin crashes has reached 36 on the year. Those deaths coincided with the Republic of Texas Biker Rally.

Half of this year's 36 deaths have been accidents involving pedestrians. That’s up from 41 percent (22 deaths) in 2011 and 20 percent (10 deaths) in 2010. Austin Police say 10 of the pedestrians killed this year were under the influence of drugs or alcohol and one driver was impaired. 

Nasha Lee for KUT News

The Republic of Texas Biker Rally begins tonight and the Austin Police Department expects it to affect downtown traffic.

A motorcycle procession beginning at 8 p.m. will cause partial road closures along the route from the Travis Country Exposition Center, traveling downtown along E. MLK Boulevard, Webberville Road, Oak Springs Road and west on E. 11th Street.

The parade will conclude on Congress Avenue, where full road closures will take place until 3 a.m. between Cesar Chavez and East 11th Street, and between Colorado and Brazos streets.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/rutlo

The city of Austin has cut the number of car crashes at ten of its most dangerous intersections in half. But how?

Red-light cameras that electronically photograph cars running red lights have been set up all over Austin. Over the past three years, these cameras have provided means to give almost 35,000 citations to those dangerous drivers.

Gavel photo courtesy flickr.com/safari_vacation; cattle photo courtesy Fox News 4 Dallas; Paramount photo by Teresa Vieira for KUT News

Poll Finds Most Texans Support the Death Penalty

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll shows that a majority of Texans support the death penalty.

The poll found 73 percent of respondents were strongly or somewhat supportive, while 21 percent were somewhat or strongly opposed. Five percent were unsure.

According to the poll, 51 percent of Texans believe the death penalty is fairly applied. Some 28 percent disagree, and 21 percent were unsure.

If a preliminary report holds true, the number of road deaths fell again in 2011. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 32,310 people died on highways last year, down almost 2 percent from the 32,885 people who died in 2010.

The Detroit News reports:

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News

In Austin, it’s illegal to use your cell phone for anything other than phone calls while driving. That includes texting and surfing the internet. The ban went into effect January 1, 2010.

But is the ban making a difference?

The Austin Police Department told KUT that officers have written just 26 citations for texting while driving since the city’s ban took effect.

'Click It or Ticket' Photo Op Leaves Onlookers Hanging

May 1, 2012
Photo by Jillian Schantz Patrick

In recent years, cranes have become an integral part of the Austin skyline. But it's not very often you see one suspend a pickup truck by seatbelts. 

This morning, the Texas Department of Transportation did just that as part of a demonstration to show the strength and power of seatbelts. 

The Click it Or Ticket campaign will stretch from May 21 to June 3 as an attempt to bring awareness and enforcement to the state seatbelt laws. Current law requires that every person in the vehicle must be secured by a seatbelt whether in the front or back seat.

View Major IH-35 - Southbound Closure in a larger map

Update: All lanes have been reopened, reports TxDOT.

Original Post: The Texas Department of Transportation says all southbound lanes of North Interstate 35 are closed just south of the U.S. 183 exit because of a major crash.

Traffic is being detoured to the access road.

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:

View in a larger map

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.

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