Transportation

Traffic, public transit, congestion, road construction and closures, I-35, MoPac, US 290, US 183, Ben White Blvd, and policy and planning issues related to transportation and mobility in Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson.

A Capital Metro bus displays a public health message during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Capital Metro launched 35 years ago Wednesday — July 1, 1985. As it marks that anniversary, the agency is facing both its biggest challenge, COVID-19, and its biggest opportunity, Project Connect. 

Capital Metro's Red Line station in downtown Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Capital Metro board unanimously approved the recommended plan for Project Connect, the regional vision for expanded transit service in the region. But hurdles remain, including coming up with a way to pay for the expansion and oversee its implementation. Voters could potentially decide on a property tax increase in November.

Some of the work in historically underserved areas has already begun, such as the Norwood Transit Center, which opened late last year in Northeast Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Capital Metro Board and Austin City Council are expected to vote Wednesday on a preferred plan for Project Connect, the proposal to expand the region’s transit system. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Policy Board approved a final list of projects that will be deferred to help pay for major improvements on I-35 in Austin, after months of debate. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Capital Metro unveiled plans in early March for transit expansion in Austin, with additional rail and bus lines, along with a downtown subway-like tunnel. The plan was intended to help congestion stay manageable as the region was projected to double in population over the next 25 years.

Southwest Airlines planes prepare to depart from Austin Airport on Feb. 21, 2019.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A team of investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration was sent to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport after a man was found dead on a runway, possibly struck by a plane. 

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A funding gap for the I-35 Capital Express project in Austin got a lot smaller Thursday, as the Texas Transportation Commission voted to allocate $3.4 billion as part of TxDOT’s 10-year transportation plan.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin’s streets are far less congested these days as people stay home to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Law enforcement is worried some drivers are taking empty streets as an invitation to speed, though – with dangerous results.

A Capital Metro bus displays a public health message to wash hands.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Capital Metro's ridership has plunged by more than 60% since stay-at-home orders were put in place in response to COVID-19. But that means several thousand passengers are still riding the bus each day.

Those riders face a different experience than what existed just a few weeks ago. Routes have been cut to account for the drop in ridership, leaving some buses with more passengers and others with fewer.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Capital Metro will be running fewer buses and trains on many routes starting Wednesday and is developing financial contingency plans in response to COVID-19. To protect drivers, Cap Metro is also asking passengers to enter buses through the rear door, unless they’re paying with cash or need the ramp.

City Council members and the Capital Metro Board of Directors meet discuss how to pay for plans to expand transit in the city.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Now that Capital Metro has revealed its preferred plan to expand transit in Austin, the question becomes how to pay for it. The Capital Metro board and Austin City Council tackled that question Monday during a joint work session.

An artist's rendering of a light-rail station platform.
Capital Metro

Capital Metro is going big when it comes to transit expansion in Austin. On Monday, its Project Connect team will not only recommend the construction of two light rail lines, but also a downtown tunnel to help them move along faster.

TxDOT

The Texas Transportation Commission discussed a solution Thursday to the funding gap for the Interstate 35 Capital Express project. Leaders have found $4.3 billion, which would allow the portion through the heart of Austin to move forward.

A Capital Metro bus
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A tentative labor deal has been reached between the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1091 and MV Transportation, which handles bus operations and maintenance services for Capital Metro.

A construction crew works on the site of the future Capital Metro downtown station.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The construction site for the new downtown station for Capital Metro's Red Line sits in a busy area near the intersection of Fourth Street and Red River Street, close to the Austin Convention Center.

That area is going to get even busier in a few weeks, when South by Southwest kicks off March 13.

A road sign says: "You're not a candle...Don't drive lit."
Photo: Gabriel C. Pérez/Illustration: Matt Largey / KUT

Traffic is one constant of life in Austin. But every so often, there’s something that breaks the monotony of brake lights: a sign reminding you that "You’re not a candle, so don’t drive lit" or "Designate a driver BE-VO the game."

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department is set to recommend a number of rules regarding scooters on Austin’s trail system, such as speed limits and geofencing to keep scooters off of the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.

Rainey Street is being closed to vehicle traffic Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights during a pilot program.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The City of Austin has been closing Rainey Street to vehicle traffic on weekend nights for the last two months as part of a pilot program to gauge the impact closures would have on safety and mobility.

Pedestrians cross the street in downtown Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

A local transportation group hopes a first-of-its-kind study encourages fewer employees to drive alone to work in downtown Austin.

Julia Reihs / KUT

The Austin City Council wants to get the word out that it’s illegal to dump scooters in bodies of water around town. In a resolution passed Thursday, members also directed staff to look into conducting a study on the effects of scooters polluting the city’s waterways.

A biker rides in a bike lane down Guadalupe Street.
Julia Reihs / KUT

For years, the City of Austin often waited for complaints before ticketing drivers who parked in bike lanes. Now, that policy is changing: The Austin Transportation Department said Tuesday it plans to increase staffing to eventually dedicate two officers per shift to actively enforce the rules.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

As leaders consider how to fund an expansion of Austin's transit system, they've determined borrowing money through bonds may not be enough. So they're considering whether to ask voters to increase taxes to help pay for it.

The Lyft Driver Center in Austin offers vehicle maintenance to its drivers.
Jorge Sanjueza-Lyon / KUT

Lyft drivers in the Austin area now have a one-stop shop for vehicle services and driver support. 

Drivers for the rideshare company can access services like oil changes, tire rotations and battery replacements, as well as rent cars to use for Lyft or take a break between rides at the Austin Driver Center, 6375 E. U.S. Highway 290.  

Vehicles drive over the railroad crossing in the Rosewood neighborhood of East Austin.
Julia Reihs / KUT

The Austin Transportation Department has identified several railroad crossings in need of safety improvements for cyclists and pedestrians. The findings come after a citywide review requested by the City Council in September based on recommendations from the city’s Pedestrian Advisory Council and Bicycle Advisory Council.

A memorial on a light pole at the intersection of Seventh Street and Springdale Avenue in East Austin.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Billy Brewster loved lawnmowers. Autistic and nonverbal, the 15-year-old would sometimes just admire them from afar.

“Billy sometimes wouldn’t even want to use the lawnmower," his mother, Mia Brown, said. “He just wanted to stand there and look at it.”

A red-painted "contraflow" lane on Guadalupe.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

It’s been a few months since buses started going against the flow of traffic on a small stretch of Guadalupe Street near UT Austin. The lane the buses use is painted red to denote that it’s off-limits to cars. Painting the lane require federal approval – and it wasn’t easy to get.

Folks hold shovels at a groundbreaking for a new bypass road.
TxDOT

The Four Points intersection at RM 620 and RM 2222 in western Travis County has been a source of growing frustration for drivers over the years.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

City of Austin workers began changing street signs Wednesday on the road commonly pronounced "MAN-chack." The new signs say "Menchaca" instead of "Manchaca." (The second letter is an E instead of an A.)

Dockless electric scooters on Rainey Street
Emree Weaver for KUT

The Austin Transportation Department is recommending a 15-cent per-trip fee for every ride on a shared dockless scooter, bicycle or moped to help pay for staff to regulate and monitor them.

A truck and a sign for State Loop 275.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin City Council voted Thursday to begin the process of possibly taking over portions of some of the city’s most prominent roads that are currently controlled by the Texas Department of Transportation. The move could make it easier to make infrastructure and transit improvements, by removing a step in the process.

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