11:30 Welcome, opening comments and transportation overview
12:00 Brief agency presentations
12:30 Moderated conversation
Lightening Round Questions
1:10 Audience Q&A – moderated by Sen. Watson*
Questions will be submitted in writing to avoid opponents using them against each other (causing reticence in asking) and to avoid grandstanding.
FOLLOW UP TO QUESTIONS ASKED DURING THE BRIEFING
What was your average daily ridership for the last full reporting year?
2,700 (FY 2013)
What were the total fare revenues for MetroRail during the same period?
Fare revenue for the most recent fiscal year (MetroRail) was $1.5 million. This is for the MetroPlus regional. Riders can take the bus or the train, but the assumption is that these are the fares attributable to rail riders.
QUESTIONS THERE WASN’T TIME TO ASK
How does the current proposed rail route affect traffic on highways and how many cars will be taken off the roads?
The first line is estimated to carry an average of 16,000-20,000 people/day, and more during events and weekends. Research shows this first line would remove more than 200,000 cars from the road each month; 10,000 cars every weekday (by 2030).
Lots of projects focused on getting people downtown, but mobility within downtown is challenging. Any chance of bringing back the Dillo or another circulator service or two?
A phased strategy to connect the Guadalupe/Lavaca MetroBus and MetroRapid corridor with MetroRail, Urban Rail and future Lone Star Rail Station is proposed to be located in the vicinity of Seaholm/AMTRAK Station. The exhibit shows the current strategy and two proposed phases. First step is in place and represents modifications to route 4, 21/22. Phase 1 is a proposed circulator providing connection between Urban Rail / MetroRail and the Transit Priority Lanes along Guadalupe and Lavaca. Phase two proposes a connection between UrbanRail, MetroRail stations, the transit priority lanes- MetroRapid/MetroBus and the proposed LSTAR station. The agency is currently studying different sustainable bus technologies and subsequently will be defining operation costs for each proposed phase. High frequency is a central characteristic of the proposed future phases (3 – 5 min). Further coordination with the City of Austin will be required to finalize proposed plans.
I-35 North of Rundberg has new sidewalks at-grade, no separation from the access road. Are there state guidelines detailing safe bike/ped access? Do these meet them?
The sidewalks that were recently constructed along this section of I-35 are intended to be temporary and were installed to address an immediate need. Although the sidewalks meet design criteria, TxDOT recognizes that they are less than ideal. The presence of drainage ditches, steep slopes and subsurface utilities, limited the options for placement of these sidewalks and required, in several instances, for the sidewalks to be located immediately adjacent to the frontage road lanes. To more effectively delineate the sidewalks in these areas, TxDOT will soon install pavement markings/striping between the sidewalks and the adjacent frontage road lanes.
It should be noted that one of the goals of the Mobility35 Program is to enhance bicycle and pedestrian travel within the I-35 corridor. TxDOT and its transportation partners are committed to this goal. The Mobility35 Plan identified a series of improvements for the section of I-35 north of US 183. Improved pedestrian and bicycle accommodations will be an integral component of the future I-35 improvements.
Is there any study considering systematic removal of left turns in exchange for u-turns or a series of right turns to accomplish the same goal?
As we deal with the continued increase in traffic on Austin’s roadways, we – as a community – must consider all available tools and strategies for decreasing the impact of congestion and improving mobility. On surface streets, arterials and frontage roads, one of those strategies is to optimize intersection operations. At very busy intersections, or at very busy times of day, limiting or restricting left turns can be one way to improve operations and enhance mobility. This is accomplished through innovative intersection concepts, such as median u-turns, which require motorists to use alternate travel patterns to accomplish the turn.
A wide range of innovative intersection solutions are being considered along the I-35 corridor, some of which would alter the manner in which left turns are made. For example, the Mobility35 Plan recommends a modern roundabout at the intersection of the southbound frontage road and 51st Street, and a diverging diamond intersection at Parmer Lane. Both roundabouts and diverging diamonds change the way that left-turns are accomplished.
It should be noted that the Mobility35 Plan initially recommended a strategy that would have restricted left turns and some east/west movements on the I-35 frontage roads between Airport and Manor Road (“the decks”). While operational analysis showed substantive mobility benefits from this concept, public outreach indicated that direct east/west movements were important to the local community. As a result of this community feedback, TxDOT has committed to maintaining all current east/west connections along I-35 in Austin. And, left-turn restrictions/ modifications will be considered on a case-by-case basis and would be tailored to location-specific conditions if implemented.
How many commuters come into the City from Travis County outside the city limits and from surrounding counties?
Available employment data (2011) indicates that:
361,799 people were employed in the COA, but live outside the COA
113,784 people were employed outside the COA but live in the COA
246,524 people were employed and live in the COA
This graphic includes some additional information.
Keep in mind that this is employment data, not commuting data, though it should track fairly closely to commuting data. One difference in the data may be whether those employed in the COA but live outside the COA commute into the city regularly or not (ie they could telecommute or be in a service business where they work outside the city but their employer is located in the city).
City of Austin
A judge recently ruled the City transportation fee is not valid. How is the city going to make up that funding and what will you do with the money already collected?
The City’s Drainage Utility Fee is the fee recently in the news about the court ruling….not the Transportation User Fee.
How do you get a modern sequenced crosswalk like those throughout downtown at an existing stop light elsewhere in the city?
Residents can call 311 if they have a request for a marked (“painted”) crosswalk or questions about the pedestrian signals at an intersection. We will evaluate and make the appropriate determination per engineering standards. Every intersection is a legal crosswalk. Marked crosswalks are engineered devices that carry liability and on-going maintenance costs with them when they are installed. When a citizen makes a request for a crosswalk, we evaluate the signal and determine the appropriateness of marking the crosswalk or simply allowing the pedestrian to cross with the signal in an un-marked configuration. At the same time, we evaluate the signal for installation of the pedestrian indicator or pedestrian signal. We are systematically replacing all our older pedestrian signals that only indicated “walk – don’t walk” with the countdown signals that one sees downtown. With nearly 1000 signals around town, many of them with pedestrian heads, we are addressing the busiest intersections first and prioritizing our work to minimize impact to our annual budget. This also allows us to evaluate the ADA appropriateness of the crossing and make modifications to ramps and push buttons at the same time.
1:30 Poster Board Session (around the edge of the room)
Representatives from each agency will stick around to answer questions at their station.