Archive for the ‘Traffic’ Category

Traffic in Austin

September 30th, 2015, Posted By Austin Housemates

Austin is growing too fast for our roads to handle. Have you noticed traffic lately? Rush hour starts earlier and last forever it seems like. The city itself is working on improving roads and smoothing traffic across I-35, Mopac, and 183, but while they work on these changes, sometimes it only makes traffic worse. So what is being done to alleviate this unwanted stress?

The U.S. Department of Transportation – Beyond Traffic

Austin will see up to 70 million people come into our city over the next few years, and that is an insane amount of growth! It can be expected due to the amount of jobs and opportunities this city offers, but in order to compensate for this massive crowd, the U.S. Department of Transportation is taking a stand. The first of 11 hearings involving fast-growing cities and their traffic will kick off today, and Austin will be well-represented. The backups downtown along with the rush-hour traffic seen every day on the highway are just a few of the issues that will be addressed at the meeting. This is only the beginning of the DOT’s Beyond Traffic plan, a 30-Year Framework that is aimed at improving road conditions across the country. For more information, visit the DOT website

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MLK & I-35

One of the busiest and most dangerous intersections in our city is the crossover between Martin Luther King Blvd and the south I-35 service road. Over 79 people have died at this intersection in just this year alone, which has prompted the city council to invest over $300,000 improving the traffic and the safety of this intersection for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike. New lanes will be added to alleviate the heavy traffic flow and reduce the number of collisions happening at this intersection, and the City of Austin intends to take care of some crosswalk and curb work on the east-to-south right turn. This will protect both drivers and pedestrians, and increase safety for the students walking and working nearby. The contract begins October 1st, so expect to see a few changes and a little more traffic until the improvements are made.

Car2Go
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In order to improve traffic downtown, Austin has renewed its contract with Car2Go in order to give more Austinites access to easy and affordable transportation without having to worry about parking, insurance, or even owning their own car. But the changes made to this contract shrunk Car2Go’s service area to focus primarily on downtown, with key access areas on Cesar Chavez, Pleasant Valley, and Lamar. The cars are still able to travel as far north as Steck and Anderson Ln and as far south as Stassney, but these far distances are for return trips only. Unlike the urban Car2Go in the city, drivers will not be able to leave the car for another driver outside of 51st street, which will make it difficult for commuters living up north.

Where you live in the city will definitely affect your perception of traffic and your ability to access public transportation and awesome services like Car2Go. If you have any thoughts about traffic, comment below or share your news with us on Facebook.

Austin Housemates Guide to SXSW 2015

March 12th, 2015, Posted By Austin Housemates

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In Austin, summer officially begins with South by Southwest Interactive. SXSW 2015 kicks off next week, regardless of the weather, and the excitable tourists will assemble in our city like a team of trademarked superheroes ready to enjoy live music and awesome drink prices. If you’re local, you already know what to expect and where to go (or where to avoid!). But if you’re new to the city, finding your way around Austin during SXSW can be maddening. Whether you want to participate in the festival or avoid the crowds altogether, getting around Austin during SXSW will be a challenge. Austin Housemates has compiled these quirky tips to get you through downtown as well as a few recommendations that are far away from SXSW so you can get the most out of your weekend whether you experience SXSW or not.

Getting Around
SXSW starts TOMORROW Friday, March 13th and roads will be closed. You can count on that. 6th Street will be closed from Brazos all the way to the frontage road. Red River, Jacinto, Sabine, Neches, and Trinity will all be closed between 5th and 7th Streets, and 5th street itself will be partially closed for the duration of the festival. So, if you’re thinking of driving downtown, don’t. Leave that to the tourists. As a local, you can hop on the CapMetro #100. It’ll be heading downtown every 15 minutes (give or take traffic) for less than $2 during SXSW. Bring your bike on the bus and take advantage of the bike-friendly crowd control now that all the roads will be closed. And if you’re lucky enough to live near any of the Metro Rail’s nine stations, you can get downtown and back in 30 minutes. We recommend getting off at the 4th and Neches station so you can be dropped right into the middle of the action.

Avoiding SXSW
Even as SXSW takes over 6th street and surrounding areas, the rest of the city is still open for exploration and fun. Coldtowne Theater, north of downtown off Airport Blvd, is presenting a Movie Riot Live Comedy Show on Friday for $5 which is guaranteed to make you laugh without giving you crowd claustrophobia. They’re even offering FREE margaritas – that’s right FREE MARGARITAS. Because, if anything, SXSW always pulls through with the free alcohol and free food even if you aren’t in the middle of it. If you’re looking to grab a bite away from SXSW, give Asiana a try. Located on East William Cannon in South Austin, Asiana will satisfy your Tandoori cravings with signature dishes like Chicken Tikka and Keema Nan. For a more classic meal, Bartlett’s on Anderson Lane in North Austin offers up a BBQ Rib platter, fresh fish sandwiches, and an all gluten-free menu with after 5 drink specials.

Remember, the easiest way to avoid the SXSW crowds is to avoid downtown Austin altogether. North and South Austin will be clear of most events, while many bars and restaurants will be still be running SXSW-themed specials to celebrate. If you want to participate, leave your car at home and take the bus.

Eyes on The Road! New Hands-Free Ordinance in Austin

January 4th, 2015, Posted By Austin Housemates

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Remember all the smart phones that came out last year, right on time for the holidays? The iPhone 6 dropped in September and Samsung released both the S5 and the Note4 in time for Christmas. Perhaps that’s what inspired the City of Austin to adopt a new, hands-free ordinance in 2015. That’s right. This update in local law was inspired by the fact that Austin is, more often than not, the leading city in Texas, and this is the city’s chance to inspire updates in safety laws throughout the state. Our new law started on the first of January.

As of January 1st, it will be a ticket-able offense to ride your bicycle or drive your car while on any hand-held device. The keyword here is “hand-held”, as mounted GPS and backseat DVD players are perfectly street-legal. The new cell phone ordinances in particular aim to reduce the number of accidents caused by a moment’s distraction. Over the past 3 years, over 400,000 cyclists and motorists were killed by people using their phones. So whether you’re reading the map or texting your eta, the police will not discriminate. The fine is steep, but the Austin government sees it as an “effort to refocus drivers on the task of driving”.

This should all be obvious, right? Keep your eyes on the road, and don’t risk it. Your life is worth more than a $500 fine, and that will still sting your wallet as you come down from all that holiday partying. For more information on the fines and list of hand-held devices that are no longer allowed in the front seat, visit the City of Austin site.

I’ve Been Working on The Texas Urban Rail Road

October 4th, 2014, Posted By Austin Housemates

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Back in May, we posted an article on our Facebook about the reality of the Capital Metro rail expansion. Cap Metro plays a big role in how everyone moves around the city, especially if you’re a part of the large number of young professionals who prefer to ride bikes rather than fight traffic. With the budget proposal, Austin’s metro system could see four new passenger cars and new downtown stations to help accommodate the huge increase in pedestrian traffic over the past year. But there’s another bone of contention with this budget that has a lot of local politicians’ heads spinning – The Strategic Mobility Plan.

As of June, many of our mayors are in support of Project Connect, a project aimed at creating an urban rail system that would connect all Austinites to the major stops in our city, including UT, ACC, and the airport. As part of this project, The Strategic Mobility Plan proposes a $1 billion budget that would not only create this urban rail but also improve I-35 highways, expand the Capital Metro, and initiate a series of direct connections to the airport and other hot spots in the city. All of these changes are in an effort to improve the infamous and atrocious highway traffic and accommodate all of tourists visiting for Comic-Con, ACL and Fun Fun Fun Fest, among the other huge events our city hosts throughout the year. But the billion-dollar price tag is proving to be the biggest hurdle to cross.

Use of public transportation in Austin has nearly doubled since last year, and politicians and transportation officials alike believe that this growth is worth the hefty price tag. If you’ve ridden the bus or the MetroRail in the past year, maybe you’ve experienced the delays and overcrowded train cars that make a commute unbearable, or maybe you’re looking for an option that will keep you off I-35 during rush hour. But would an urban rail line be worth it? Similar proposals are happening throughout Texas, including a high-speed rail system that would connect Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth with Austin, but this option is supported by privately-owned companies and therefore does not require a federal or state-funded budget. Would something similar work in Austin? It’s no doubt that traffic is a nuisance, and past expansion projects have succeeded in improving urban congestion, but a billion dollars is a huge investment. It will be up to you to decide if the investment is worth it when you take to the ballot on Nov. 4th.

Vote smart! If you would like more information on the rail expansion, visit the Texas Dept of Transportation website where they’ve uploaded the proposal plan as PDF for all voters to read over and consider.