Austin is ranked fourth in the U.S. for time wasted in traffic, i.e, worse than Houston and New York City. In the 2014 list of Texas's 100 Most Congested Highways, four major Austin roadways appeared: I-35 (from US 290N to SH71 and from SH 71 to Slaughter Ln), Mopac Expwy/SL 1 (from US 183 to SL 360), S Lamar Blvd/SL 343(from W Cesar Chavez St to US 290/SH 71), N Lamar Blvd (from W 45th St to W Cesar Chavez St /SL343). This map shows the sections of roads in Austin classified as 100 most congested roads of Texas. By 2035, commuter trips on these roads during rush hours are expected to double.
Despite, the extensive infrastructure plan of CAMPO 2035 totaling $28.4 billion, the Travel Time Index (a ratio of peak period travel time to free flow travel time) is expected to increase from 1.31 to 1.791, i.e., 40 extra minutes will be taken to complete a normally 1 hour journey. By 2035, peak period congestion will be so severe that it will extend into off-peak periods lasting as long as 10pm.
How do we fix rush hour congestion? What other innovative ideas could Central Texans use to improve commuting?
Despite Austin's rapid, stable growth in the recent decades, the city's transportation infrastructure has undergone relatively little expansion. The growth places economic, infrastructural, and developmental strains on the city. With the population expected to total over 1 million by 2025, regional growth and its impact on residents cannot be ignored.
In the context of Proposition 1's defeat last November - and the failure of the 2000 rail proposition, Austin needs new ways to manage its expanding growth. Stakeholders differ on whether this means new roads or density-friendly zoning and planning, among other policy ideas.
What policies should Austin prioritize to manage Central Texas' unprecedented growth?
Every day in America, 28 more people die from drunk-driving related car accidents. In 2013, Texas led the nation with 1,337 deaths and 15,687 injuries caused by drunk drivers. That year, 991,195 people were apprehended and about 72% of these were convicted for driving under influence of alcohol or drugs. And drunk or drugged driving is only one fraction of the bigger problem of impaired driving - which involves driving while distracted. According to AT&T, more than 100,000 car accidents a year are caused by people texting while driving. In 2011, 3,331 people were killed and about 387,000 people injured in distracted driving accidents in the U.S. In 2011. Despite the absence of a statewide law, Austin banned texting while driving in 2015.
What other policy changes could Austin make to ensure all drivers are safe and responsible on the road?
Summary of MobilityATX Community Data: Impaired Driving
The full report by Nathan Brigmon of Civic Analytics provides an analysis of records of DWI stops in Austin in 2014 that were provided by the Austin Police Department. The report includes maps that compare the stop location and home addresses of all persons stopped for suspicion of DWI in 2014.
As Austin continues to grow, the demand for parking downtown will continue to pressure downtown commuters and visitors alike. Due to construction and the creation of new, dedicated lanes for CapMetro, available street parking has actually decreased 4.5 percent since 2012. Furthermore, demand for street parking is even higher due to Austin's relatively cheap street parking at one dollar an hour, something the city will look to increase in the future.
As Austin's central core expands East - the city just added 884 meters to existing parking spots on the East Side - parking pressure will continue. The City of Austin has proved open to changing policy: The city will stop providing free parking for employees next year. This opens up new opportunities to innovate Austin parking policy, such as San Francisco's real time parking data.
What other policy changes could Austin make to ease the parking burden?
We've talked a lot about Central Texas solutions for Central Texas problems. But this section is an opportunity to look outside of our region and analyze innovations we could import to Central Texas. Be it a smart parking system or a redesigned bus system, other cities are innovating too - and we need to keep up!
What case studies, innovations or unheard of policies should Austin consider implementing?