Public Notice: On the Waterfront
MoPac toll plan heads to CAMPO
For years now, this region's long-range transportation plan – the CAMPO 2035 Plan – has called for adding one "managed" lane in each direction on MoPac between Cesar Chavez and Slaughter Lane. Over the past months, with little public input or awareness, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Board doubled that toll road plan in their draft CAMPO 2040 Plan, proposing two "managed" lanes in each direction: four toll lanes, including a double-decker bridge over Lady Bird Lake with a flyover next to Austin High School onto Cesar Chavez – 12 lanes overall, compared to I-35's eight – without a single HOV lane. Equally offensive to many is the fact that the toll lanes would use congestion pricing, hiking rates to as much as $12-14 a trip when "unmanaged" traffic gets really bad.
Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea went to the CTRMA Board on April 22 to "ask them to pull back their plans" before presenting them to the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization policy board for their upcoming vote on Monday, May 11, but she probably didn't expect to get a sympathetic ear at that level: The seven-member CTRMA board consists of real estate investor Ray Wilkerson, Williamson County developers James Mills and David Singleton, developers' attorneys Nikelle Meade and David Armbrust, Round Rock consultant and former City Manager Robert Bennett, and real estate market analyst Charles Heimsath – and their E.D. is WilCo road warrior Mike Heiligenstein.
The 20-member CAMPO board, on the other hand, is made up primarily of elected officials: four from the city of Austin, four from Travis County, five from the surrounding counties in the metro area, and five from suburban cities. How that body might split on the issue is unclear, but it's worth noting that several of those officials were enthusiastic participants at Saturday's "Save It, Don't Pave It" rally at Roberta Crenshaw Bridge.
Almost lost in the "Barton Springs Flyover" flap is another controversial CTRMA move: the completion of the "Southwestern Loop" connecting MoPac to I-35 with SH 45 SW – which crosses environmentally sensitive land, and which critics fear would divert thousands of cars and trucks daily onto MoPac from I-35. The city and county have repeatedly asked for a full environmental and traffic study; CTRMA has thus far modeled only segment studies, figuring the impact of each expansion – MoPac North, MoPac South, SH 45 SW, connecting to I-35 – as if it were unconnected to any of the others. See both the 2035 and 2040 plans at www.campotexas.org, and CTRMA info at www.mobilityauthority.com.
Elsewhere on the Waterfront
The 291-room Four Seasons hotel Downtown sold this week for $197 million. ... And across the lake, plans for a multi-use soccer/basketball stadium complex (joke (sort of)) took another step forward as the Austin American-Statesman announced that it would cease printing its own paper, and begin phasing out its other contract printing jobs (including the Chronicle). No print shop, no apparent need to stay in what may be the most desirable piece of property in the city, and ... let the bidding begin.
Speaking of bidding: Catellus Development Corp. has selected L.A.-based CBRE | UCR, "the world's largest commercial real estate services and investment firm," as the exclusive retail leasing representatives for the long-awaited Aldrich Street town center district at the Mueller Development. Anchored by the Thinkery children's museum and the Mueller Lake Park amphitheatre, Aldrich Street will include a brand new Alamo Drafthouse, and "is envisioned to be the densest, most diverse part of Mueller that ties the community together," with groundbreaking for the new streetfront retail space scheduled for late 2015. See www.muelleraustin.com for more.
Bike Month continues – there's a huge schedule of rides and meet-ups all month long, centered around May 15's Bike to Work Day. See www.biketoworkaustin.org, www.bikeaustin.org, or www.bicycleaustin.info for oh-so-much more info. Meanwhile, this week's highlights include a Pop-Up Commuter Breakfast with Movability Austin at St. David's Episcopal Church. Tour St. David's secure bike parking and showers, enjoy breakfast, and meet other bicycle commuters. Fri., May 8, 8-9:30am.
The Parks & Recreation Department Aquatic Division has announced the 2015 City Pool Schedule, with most neighborhood pools opening June 8 or 15, the Eastside's Metz and Mabel Davis closed until further notice, and a long schedule of rotating closure days. See a link to pool and splash pad schedules, plus more info on pool operations, at www.austintexas.gov/pools. ... Aquatics still really needs lifeguards for the summer; see www.austintexas.gov/department/lifeguarding-austin for info on training and available incentives.
"Fair Housing in Austin: Past, Present, and Future" is a conference hosted by the city Friday, May 8, 8:30am-3pm at the Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron. Topics include discriminatory advertising, statements, and notices; disability rights; ethics and case law; and best practices. $40 includes breakfast, lunch, and materials; register at www.austintexas.gov/fairhousingconference, or call the Equal Employment and Fair Housing Office at 512/974-3251.
The APD's Don't Block the Box initiative is expanding across Downtown, to 20 intersections, from the original four.