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TxDOT charrette on IH-35 and the UT area
18 July, 2001

MEETING NOTES  (FINAL)

DESIGN CHARRETTE  (re: I35 @ Manor/26th Street)

Date/time of meeting:  Saturday, 14 July 2001, 8 a.m. - 12:00 noon

Location:   Blackland Community Center
    2005 Salina St.

Attendees (alphabetical order) / affiliation

Gordon Bennett   CNA  (Member IH35 Subcommittee & Webmaster)
Creola Burns   Group Solutions (Subconsultant to Earthtech)
Kelly Daniel   Austin American Statesman
Charles Davidson  TxDot
Bennett Donovan  CNA  (former resident, property owner)
Scot Friedman   Wilshire Wood/Delwood I Neighborhood Association
Kevin Fullerton   Austin Chronicle
Roland Gamble   Earthtech (Prime consultant to TxDot)
Girard Kinney    CNA (Chair, IH35 Subcommittee; Member, Traffic Committee) 
Leslie Lawson   Wilshire Wood/Delwood I Neighborhood Association
Mark Lind   CNA  (Chair, Traffic Committee) 
Bo McCarver   Blackland Neighborhood Association
Michael McClendon  CNA  (Member, Traffic Committee & IH35 Subcommittee)
John Rishling   University of Texas (Assoc. V. P. for Planning & Campus Facilities)
Marcellus Sapenter  [affiliation unknown]
Stefan Schuster   CNA  (Member, Steering & Traffic Committees & IH35 Subcommittee)
Dorothy Wade   CNA  (Member, Traffic Committee & I35 Subcommittee)

MEETING NOTES:

(Note; these meeting notes are organized around the meeting agenda in general, although some minor deviations occurred)

Pre-meeting (7:30-8:20)
Bo McCarver prepared excellent eggs & potatoes, and served tacos, tomatoes, bread, orange juice and coffee, while the TxDot crew and volunteers set up charrette materials Folks trickled in generally by 8:15 to 8:30, with social interaction during the set-up period.

Introduction (8:20-8:30)
Creola Burns introduced the team and laid down general meeting rules, inviting mutual respect and a spirit of cooperation.

Brief Overview (8:30-9:00)
  § Girard Kinney gave a brief overview of the history of the partnership among the four neighborhoods along IH35 (Blackland, Cherrywood, Wilshire Wood and Dellwood II).
  § He outlined the basic concerns then about traffic impact in the neighborhoods, first from redeveloped Mueller, then from UT as the 1st Phase of the IH35 MIS (Major Investment Study) unfolded a couple of years ago.
  § He emphasized that while we are dedicated to protecting the neighborhood's interest, we are aware that all neighborhoods will have to bear a share of increased traffic.
  § Members introduced themselves.  During introductions, Roland Gamble responded to Bo McCarver query that had been previously posted by email concerning heat islands and environmental impact.  Hicks and Company has recently been engaged to continue the environmental impact work that Carter and Burgess had begun.
  § Girard reviewed the charrette process and introduced Roland Gamble.

Review of Current TxDot Plans (9:00- 9:30)
Roland Gamble presented Cross Sections looking south, depicting the four schemes now being studied, in view of the fact that it has been determined that there will be no intrusion into the Cemetery.  The preferred solution involves frontage roads cantilevered out over depressed main lanes, southbound between MLK and 26th, and northbound between 26th and 32nd, depressed main lanes from about 17th to about 41st, and a raised HOV structure located down the middle between north and southbound lanes.  In the solution presented, there were no northbound exits between south of 15th to about 34th, and no southbound exits between Airport Blvd and just north of MLK. 

He also pointed out that there were no street connections from the east to west frontage roads between 38th½ and Airport Blvd.

The neighborhood representatives expressed concern about impact into the neighborhoods both from UT bound traffic and RMMA bound traffic, due to the lack of north and southbound exits at Airport Blvd and about the lack of pedestrian connections across IH35 in the vicinity of 4oth/41st.  They repeated their concern about IH35 being elevated over the RR and Airport Blvd and the lack of an eastbound exit at Airport Blvd.

Design Session Part 1 (9:30- 10:15)
The first portion of the Design Session focused on exploration of southbound exit ramps from IH35 to get access to UT.  With Mr. Rishling's active encouragement and ideas, several conceptual diagrams were produced illustrating several possible ways of achieving UT access from southbound IH35 without causing unacceptable impact to 26th and Manor Road east of IH35.

[Note; among the comments offered after the charrette, but pertinent to include here, was the point that Southbound EMS vehicles whose destination is St. Davids' Hospital would also benefit from an exi from I35 at 26th/Dean Keeton.]

Break (10:15-10:30)
During the break, Mark Lind presented a brief overview of the Upper Boggy Creek Planning Team Vision for the Manor Road area east of IH35 which involves a calmed street serving businesses along Manor and providing pedestrian and bicycle path from the neighborhoods to UT.

Design Session Part 2 (10:30- 11:15)
After the break, attention turned to northbound IH35, with ideas explored for achieving access to UT in the Manor/26th area.  After some discussion it was agreed that the preferred solution would be a connection to 26th/Dean Keeton, and several diagrams were sketched of possible ways to accomplish this.

The subjects of the CNA objection to a northbound exit between 32nd and 38th½, and their suggestion that there be an entrance there instead were discussed.  Mr. Gamble pointed out that an entrance ramp had been added there since we had last seen the plan, to co-exist with the proposed exit ramp.  He explained that this is defined as a  "braided" ramp configuration.  This satisfied the concern for an entrance, and members present expressed acceptance of the idea of an exit south of 38th½, provided that this entrance ramp is also included, and that the proposed northbound exits at both 26th/Dean Keeton and Airport Blvd prove feasible. 

TxDot Reiteration of Ideas for Further Study (11:15-11:30)
Roland Gamble stated the points and neighborhood concerns he had noted from the Design Sessions to be explored further by TxDot:
  1. In general, explore ways to minimize traffic through the neighborhoods east of IH35, with special attention paid to RMMA and UT generated traffic.
  2. Address concern about traffic congestion in the southbound feeder road in the Airport Blvd- 26th street section due to no exit ramps from just north of Airport Blvd to just north of 26th/Dean Keeton.
  3. Explore southbound connection to Eastbound Dean Keeton or to Red River, between Keeton and Manor.
  4. John Rishling felt that UT would have an entrance from the east.  Pelli master Plan shows Manor Road, but consensus of the group was that Keeton is a better Gateway and should be explored by TxDot.
  5. Connectivity needed between east and west frontage roads in the area of 40th street, with particular emphasis in pedestrian and bicycle connections.  Vehicle connections should be limited to "U" turns, connecting the east side, northbound feeder road with the southbound feeder road south of the RR, and connecting the west side, southbound feeder road with the east side, northbound feeder road north of the RR.  A special need to accommodate the Boggy Creek Bikeway system along the RR where it crosses IH35 was emphasized.
  6. A thorough look needs to be made about overall access to and distribution of traffic to UT, including exploring a northbound loop from IH35 to 26th.

Additional Ideas explored (11:30-11:50)
Since there was some time available, Mr. Gamble presented a TxDot study that had been done responding to our urging for an exit at Airport Blvd. The solution shown connects only to eastbound Airport, but Mr. Gamble stated that they are looking also at ways to connect with westbound Airport Blvd.  The neighborhood representatives were very gratified to see that TxDot is looking further at the possibilities here.

Concern was expressed that IH35 is still being shown going up and over the RR and Airport Blvd., rather than depressed as it is to the south.  Concern was also expressed about how close the frontage road is to the Church, and a suggestion was made to tuck a portion of the northbound feeder road under the exiting ramp, in order to allow it to infringe less into the neighborhood.

TxDot Reiteration of Additional Ideas for Further Study (11:50- 12:00)
After the additional ideas to the north were discussed, Mr. Gamble reiterated the following additional areas where further study is warranted:
  1. Verify position of burial sites at church, and explore ways to avoid them.
  2. Look at tucking the northbound frontage road under the adjacent exit bridge.
  3. Explore HOV grades.

Final Sum Up and Adjourn 11:55-12:00 Noon
  After some discussion about having two additional charrettes, one focusing on Airport Blvd and one focusing again on the Dean Keeton area, it was decided instead to combing the whole area and have one charrette the Saturday following Labor Day.  TxDot will have responses to the points iterated at that meeting.

Meeting Notes were recorded by Girard Kinney, circulated to all attendees, and comments from all submitted by the morning of 18 July have been included in this FINAL version.

Notes on meeting with IH-35 designers (from G. Bennett)
June 19 (Tue) Girard, Mark, Jules (for awhile), and I met for an hour with Roland Gamble of Earth Tech and Robert Carrillo of Carter-Burgess.  These are the engineers contracted by TxDOT to design IH-35 through central Austin.

Summarizing what we learned about progress on the MIS:

   - DEPRESSED LANES.  The main lanes are now showing as depressed from the CBD north past 51st St EXCEPT for bridging the RR and Airport Blvd.  They are no longer considering tunneling under the RR.

   - EXIT to Airport Blvd.  They are no longer considering one.  To various ways we have floated to get a freeway connection to Airport, they continue to cite old objections:
        > constructability
        > drainage
        > cramped space because of the RR
     And now they cite new objections:
        > wider ROW needed for an adequate radius (requiring additional land from Wilshire Wood)
        > "aesthetics" (elevated off-ramps, like the ones off 183 at Mopac, branching N & S) would be "messy."  Gamble maintained they were "trying to clean this up."
        > "people" (unnamed) want us to do different things.  We have more demands on our design here than ones from you guys.

   - EXIT to UT.  No imaginative thinking here either, in part because "UT seems happy.  We haven't heard from them."   They expect northbound trips to UT to do one of the following:
        > Exit before 15th, pass 15th signal, pass MLK signal and turn left on MLK
        > ... pass MLK signal and and go straight to 26th
        > Exit before 38½, pass signal there, U-turn back to 32nd, pass signal there, go straight to 26th

   - MODELS.  Every design choice was justified with a computer model.  Old models might have been inadequate (witness the congested off-ramp flying over to W-bound 183), but they have great confidence in their present model.

   - ACCESS ROAD (East Avenue) and BRIDGES.  We didn't have time for questions about access lanes being widened and made to serve capacity needs possibly conflicting with convenient, safe E-W crossing (including for bike/ped).  Maybe at the July 14 charette....

Council leaves 38½ St. in the 2025 AMATP (from G. Bennett)
     Council voted not to remove a segment of E38½ Stt, as recommended by its Planning Commission and its Urban Transportation Commission, from the 2025 Transportation Plan.

    After lengthy debate over how to handle 100 specific road plan issues collectively (there was great reluctance to spend hours going through them 1 by 1), Council muddled its way forward by voting simply to write "remarks" next to controversial streets in the Plan.

1.
They want to revisit streets individually "when something is about to happen."  Any chance of action on E38½.St  died when Transportation, Planning, and Design Department chief Austan Librach assured Council (erroneously, but no one challenged) that TxDOT was" not about to do anything" that would affect 38½ St.  Our telling his staff repeatedly for 10 months about TxDOT's preference for a freeway exit there has fallen on deaf ears.

2.
Librach's chief transportation planner, Teri McManus, regurgitated her persistent argument that removing a street from the Plan would threaten its eligibility for federally financed "urban design enhancements."  No matter that the City has no design for such enhancements to 38½ St.

3.
Several times it was suggested by Librach or McManus that the appropriate process for designing Manor Rd and 38½ St is "corridor planning."  Our two streets, said Librach, are corridors they haven't gotten to yet.  There was NO MENTION by these staff of neighborhood planning.   They have deaf ears for it too.    Goodman, Griffith, and Thomas stood up for us.  Thomas even made a motion to delay action on Manor Rd (defeated).  The minds of Alvarez, Slusher, Watson, and Wynn were elsewhere.

    I suppose our best hope now is to keep up the drum beat, on the slim chance of a more favorable combination of circumstances in the near future.  Meanwhile we should pray that TxDOT moves forward at a snail's pace with its IH35 upgrade plans.

I left another message at CapMetro, this one pretty terse.  Bill LeJeune called me back within 20 minutes and I was nearly civil 'til I caught him in a couple if er, umm, misstatements.  I lost it and he got a new one installed. [][] About an hour later, he called back (choking, really)  and said trains would no longer run through the residential part of the line between 10p.m. and 7a.m..I told him that approval of his policies isn't up to me so we all might want to discuss this further. [][] Any input, ideas or suggestions welcomed.  Y'all are the greatest, Thanks..[][] Love, Mont
1. F rom: "montec@texas.net" <montec@texas.net> 
Hi Folks Normally I'd just reply to those who responded to my last missive, but, it's 4 a.m. and another train just rumbled through; Even as I wait on a call back from Capital Metro  (Railroad Operations  for any like minded quality-of-lifers).  If you give them a call I promise not to send any Custom Sounds' customers to your driveway.  I live behind Fiesta and am used to industrial sound in the middle of the night, but nothing like this. [] Last time I remember it happening was when the recycling plant caught fire a few years back.  Any help appreciated.  CapMetro administration office 389-7400.  'Night... Love, Mont'

2. The contact at CapMetro is Sue (strange last name that sound maybe like "Mugno?") in the Railroad department and her number is 389-7437. [Katie Johnsonius]

For More Information Contact:
Ted Burton, Public Relations Manager 389-7550
Web site: www.capmetro.org
MEDIA ADVISORY:  February 26, 2001

THOUSANDS OF TRUCKS REMOVED FROM AUSTIN ROADS

   Capital Metro approves new contract moving freight by rail vs. roads 

   Capital Metro finalized a five-year contract Monday to run rail freight on the Giddings to Llano line.   The agreement will eventually remove nearly 9,000  trucks a month from Austin roads and earn the agency a projected $4.2 million in profits. 

   Capital Metro awarded the $26.7 million contract to Austin Area Terminal Railroad, a subsidiary of Trans Global Solutions Inc., after a competitive  procurement process.  AUAR will run the rail freight operation and maintain the 163-line, which is owned by Capital Metro.  Freight includes rock used for concrete and asphalt, chemical lime for agriculture and construction, lumber and recycled materials. 

   Moving freight by rail instead of roads means easier, safer commutes for Austin drivers.  One rail car carries the equivalent of four trucks.  This year Capital  Metro's rail freight operations will remove 45,000 trucks from Austin roads, or nearly 4,000 a month.   By the fifth year of the contract, rail freight operations will remove the equivalent of nearly 9,000 trucks a month from Austin roadways.  Over the next five  years, nearly 450,000 fewer trucks will rumble down our roads and highways due to Capital Metro's rail freight operation. 

   Capital Metro is the only transit agency in the state that maintains a rail freight operation. 

   At first 20-25 attendees from Cherrywood, Wilshire Wood, and Delwood  were irritated ~ Creola, a PR type with an Al Roker smile and Nurse Rachet approach to rules ~ was almost tarred and feathered for insisting (with 6 or 7 hands in the air), "let's move along on our agenda ... if we answer all your questions we'll be here all night!"

   Our TXDoT guests were not prepared for the cascade of probing, thoughtful questions fired at them, and had to shift gears ~ but once they did, things got downright informative...

~~~~~~~
INTERIM Highlights
~~~~~~~
<1> Short-term improvements, scheduled to begin construction next Spring, are open now to only minor "field changes" ~ and some of those, such as signal timing, are actually the City's responsibility...

<2> Dangerously short 1950s on-ramps will be replaced with single N-bound (opposite Concordia) and S-bound (next to St. David's) ones with modern 1000-foot acceleration lanes ~ these will be safer but will have some neighborhood impacts:

   (a) More N-bound traffic on the access road will back up at 32nd (by the Days Inn), and some destined for 38½ may cut through the French Place / Concordia area...

   (b) More S-bound traffic on the access road also will back up at 32nd (by Concordia) ~ the dedicated left turn there will change to left + straight and carry traffic headed for the new freeway entrance by St. David's ~ the easy left turn into Cherrywood  will disappear...

   (c) Exiting N-bound traffic between 38½ and Airport (by Fiesta), once denied the off-ramp before 38½ that will close, may loop around Wilshire Blvd and Maplewood to get back to Fiesta...

<3> We need to think about leverging these new pressures into some traffic calming in our area...

~~~~~~~
UPGRADE Highlights
~~~~~~~
<4> Final design decisions are a year away ~ and our input before February, if made by Delwood2 + Wilshire Wood + Cherrywood + Blackland jointly, until Feb has every chance of being considered seriously...

<5> Collaboration among TXDoT, CAMPO, City transportation planners, and the City's traffic calming program is minimal ~ neighborhood associations and coalitions are likely to be the lead entities that fit their separate tasks into consolidated solutions for our area...

<6> Plans will be final in two years, and after federal approval, funding, additional right-of-way purchase, contracting, etc., construction should begin in 6-10 years...

<7> SH130 should open before IH35 upgrade construction begins...

<8> The substance of the evolving TXDoT plan and of local perspectives on it are as reported at the beginning of the summer ~ see < CAMPO Memo>...

IH-35 FUTURE COMES INTO FOCUS (JUN 2000)

   Today Mark, Girard, and I were able to have a meeting at TXDoT / Austin District with:
      -Glen McVey, IH-35 Principal Project Manager
      -Charles Davidson, E.I.T., Advanced Project Development Office
      -Eduardo Gutierrez, P.E., Transportation Engineer
These gentlemen work on short- and long-term IH-35 projects in central Austin, and had room-size schematics, engineering data, simulation results, financials -- the works -- it was very informative, since even the labyrinthian "Building a Better IH 35" Web site <www.i35austin.com/sitemap.shtml> gives only broad outlines...

~~~~~~~
SHORT-TERM congestion management ("bottleneck") improvements -- construction to commence in Feb or Mar 2001 and take 3-4 months -- this will be the configuration for several years until the long-term upgrade (likely to be different)
~~~~~~~

   They have scaled back since last February -- gone now (you'll be happy to hear) are bridge closures between 15th and Airport, and grander ideas of discouraging freeway use for local trips -- the focus now is safer on- and off-ramps...

NORTHBOUND (our side)
   -Entrances: close Manor, build Edgewood with longer acceleration lane, close Concordia
   -Exits:  keep MLK, keep Manor/32nd, close 38½, keep Airport
   -Lanes: no change
   -Impacts: safer freeway entrance with longer on-ramp (+); cars destined for 38½ must go through signal at 32nd (-)
   -Issues: none

SOUTHBOUND
  -Entrances: close Hancock Center, close Edgewood, build 30th with longer acceleration lane, close Manor
   -Exits: keep 38½, keep 32nd, close 26th (Dean Keaton), build Manor (UT says it will make possible a R turn into UT there), keep MLK
   -Lanes: at 32nd, with some construction, 3 lanes will go straight (instead of 1 now)
   -Impacts: safer freeway entrance with longer on-ramp (+); end kamikaze R turn from freeway into UT at 26th (+); possibly more traffic through 32nd (-) but 3 straight lanes and Manor exit to UT will help (+)
   -Issues: we have asked for more study of pedestrian / bicycle / wheelchair use of the 32nd St bridge, and the problem of unsignaled entering traffic from the Day's Inn

~~~~~~~
LONG-TERM upgrade -- study of alternatives at advanced stage -- construction 8-10 years away -- this will be IH-35's last modification for a long time -- may look much different than short-term changes above
  ~~~~~~~

   The summary posted on the CNA We site, Traffic page CAMPO Memo remains accurate but now there is more...

   Of the two options described there, we learned today that Option-1 is shrinking in TXDoT's eyes.  We seem destined to get some version of Option-2, though there's still room for change...

   Briefly, " Option-2 (HOV lanes elevated) uses the existing southbound overhead structure for HOV, removes the northbound overhead structure, and puts other through lanes partly below grade; new R.O.W. would take eastside businesses but no residences."

   This fall TXDoT will be ready to offer their favored design for neighborhood review and public comment -- certainly CNA will participate -- the vehicle for accumulating neighborhood feelings is the Traffic Committee

~~~~~~~
CAMPO 25-year plan to be available on-line soon
~~~~~~~

   On Monday, June 12, 2000, the CAMPO Policy Advisory Committee adopted the CAMPO 2025 Transportation Plan. Staff is currently in the process of making all revisions approved by the PAC. The Plan will be available for the public and will be put on the CAMPO web site at the end of June. 

   CAMPO deserves to be take at least half-seriously -- it's role is to certify local approval of transportation priorities before federal funds can be released locally -- it is mandated to revisit its 25-year plan every 5 years -- so we have some time to convince them 38½ should not be a wide boulevard -- I figure their staff has been concentrating on other issues...

For the freeway curious, TXDoT has a site devoted to the Austin portion of I-35   (updated April 18) - since CNA and adjacent neighborhood reps are about to make specific requests to state and local traffic planners, there might be some interest in this site's "Frequently Asked Questions"...

In the near term, scheduled to begin construction in central Austin in August 2000, is a "Bottleneck: or "Congestion Management" project to "reconfigure entrance and exit ramps and add auxiliary lanes between ramps"...

Still at least 6 years away is a more serious "Upgrade" involving right-of-way (ROW) widening, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, coordination with SH-130 and/or light rail, etc....    /gb

~~~~ TXDoT I-35 Improvement FAQs (April 2000) ~~~~ >
As questions about the IH 35 Corridor or Study are compiled, they will be answered in this section. This list will be updated frequently but you can always submit a question to the project team or call the hotline (512-443-3852) for a specific answer.

  1. Do alternatives #2 and #3 provide a solution to current traffic conditions only, or do they allow for future anticipated growth as well?

 The "build alternatives," being analyzed for IH 35, will improve the current traffic conditions by providing a safer, more efficient facility. In addition, the goal is to add capacity to the extent that is determined to be feasible. The number of lanes on IH 35 that are feasible in the central downtown area, will reflect upon the capacity of IH 35 as it radiates from the downtown area to the cities north and south of Austin. Therefore, IH 35 will not completely allow for future anticipated growth.

 We must remember that the Austin metropolitan area will double in size by the year 2020 and the travel demand for the IH 35 corridor will be greater than that which can be provided within the corridor. The travel demand for the IH 35 corridor that exceeds its capacity will use other facilities or other modes of travel.

  2. When can rebuild construction actually begin (bottleneck projects excluded)?

 The IH 35 rebuild construction, excluding the bottleneck projects and current interchange construction, can feasibly begin in about 5 years. Isolated projects, however, such as the interchange of SH 45 with IH 35 in the Round Rock area, will begin sooner. The construction in the immediate central Austin area will be at least six years away.

  3. What solution is proposed for existing traffic while rebuilding IH 35 is taking place?

 Existing traffic will be carried through the construction project; however, as congestion continues to escalate, traffic will divert to alternate facilities in an effort to improve travel through the corridor.

  4. Approximately how long a period of time will it take from start to finish?

 The plan, which is being developed by the MIS, will be a long-range plan to build a better IH 35 for Central Texas. The actual time to complete the rebuild could be 15-20 years depending upon the availability of funds.

  5. How soon can SH 130 be built? 

 The construction of SH 130 potentially can begin within 2-3 years and traffic can be using portions of it within about 5 years.

  6. Can truck traffic be forced to travel SH 130 upon completion?

 The forcing of truck traffic to SH 130 is not a part of current planning. SH 130, however, is an important and integral part of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization's plan and truck traffic will use the facility.

  7. Can designated lanes of IH 35 be used for truck traffic until SH 130 can be completed?

 We all adjust our travel patterns to arrive at our destinations using the most convenient route to save as much time as possible. For truckers, time is money, and they will use SH 130 if it saves them travel time. Obviously, during the congested peak periods on IH 35, a greater percentage of trucks will divert to SH 130 to save time.

 By current law, lanes are not designated on IH 35 for truck traffic. However, for facilities having 3 or more lanes in each direction, the inside lane is designated for vehicles passing other vehicles.

  8. Can Austin area drivers slow down, drive the speed limit, and be courteous to other drivers? Whatever happened to "drive friendly"?

 Can Austin area drivers slow down? Yes, but few do. The enforcement agencies are doing their part to slow down the drivers, but there is just so much that they can do.

 "Being courteous to other drivers" is something that cannot be legislated; however, it is contagious.

 "Drive friendly" is still an ideal that we should all strive to obtain.

  9. How does the IH 35 rebuild fit into the overall transportation plan for all of Central Texas (SH 130, SH 45, US 183 & MoPac extension, light rail, Capital Metro)?

 IH 35 rebuild is included in the transportation plan developed by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). This plan also includes new facilities such as SH 130 and SH 45 and includes improvement to existing facilities needed to provide for the transportation needs for Central Texas which is anticipated to double in population by the year 2025.

 In addition, CAMPO's plan takes into consideration light rail, Capital Metro, and measures to reduce the future travel demand.
<~~~~ TXDoT I-35 Improvement FAQs (April 2000) ~~~~

~~~~~~~
   To find out how local transportation planning might affect Cherrywood, and what voice we might have...

   I attended a public hearing on Apr10 of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planniing Organization (CAMPO) Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) on the draft "Transportation Plan to the Year 2025."

   CAMPO is regional, embracing Williamson, Travis, and Hays Counties.  Its PAC is 90% political, including (among others) State Sen. Barrientos (Chair); State Reps. Maxey (VC), Dukes, Greenberg, Keel,& Naishtat; Travis Co. Commissioners Baxter, Davis, & Sonleitner; and Austin City Council members Garcia, Lewis, Spelman, and Watson.

   The "Transportation Plan to the Year 2025" will be considered for adoption on June 12. /gb
~~~~~

JARGON & RHETORIC
   1. "Major Divided Arterial" (MAD) = High volume surface roadways - high priority at intersections - signals at significant crossings - center median - left turn storage.

   2. "Major Undivided Arterial" (MAU) = Similar to MAD - no center median

   3. "Minor Arterial" (MNR) = Meet local access and circulation requirements in addition to providing through movement - full movement access (left and right turns) permitted along the route - low priority at significant intersections.

   4. Federal Highway Adm. (FHWA) bicycle design groups:
  "A" = Experienced riders -- prefer sufficient operating space to share roadways with motor vehicles - best served by making every street bicycle-friendly
  "B" = Casual, New, & Teen riders - prefer comfortable access to destinations via direct routes, and well-defined separation from motor vehicles - best served by identifying key travel corridors (arterials,k collectors) and providing designated bicycle facilities on selected routes through these corridors
  "C" = Children - prefer access to key neighborhood destinations, streets with low speed limits and traffic volumes, and well-defined separation from motor vehicles - best served by [same as "B"]

   5. Impacts to Neighborhoods = "The CAMPO Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) in 1994 stated its intent to not damage inner city neighborhoods by widening roadways...  Therefore the proposed roadway system attempts to minimize the expansion of arterials within existing urbanized areas, especially residential areas.  A CAMPO 2025 Transportation Plan goal is to increase person carrying capacity rather than motor vehicle capacity."

CHERRYWOOD ROADWAY SYSTEM
   1. Airport Blvd (MAD 4) = "need" MAD 8  with Bike B, but "fiscally constrained 2025 plan" (what the projected budget realistically may allow) is the Existing (MAD 4).

   2. 38½ St (MNR 2/4) = "need" MAD 6 with Bike B, budget may allow Existing

   3. Manor Rd (MNR 2) = "need" [blank, I suppose because of Mueller uncertainties], budget may allow MAU 4 with Bike B

   4. 26th St from I35-Manor (MAD 4) = "need" MAD 6 with Bike B, budget may allow Existing

NEIGHBORHOODS' VOICE IN THE PROCESS
   This Plan, as with similar TXDoT documents, is filled with the rhetoric of public input, public hearings, open meetings, public response forms, and consultation with affected neighborhoods and landowners.  At the same time, each locality is one piece of a bigger puzzle, and what traffic engineers want to do to move cars and trucks may knock heads with what neighbors want to do to obstruct vehicular traffic. 
   But CAMPO is very political, and I think Will Bozeman has it right when he says, "They understand 'No' and 'Hell No'" (Will, who lives north of UT, chairs the Austin Neighborhoods Coalition).
   We'll never get everything we want, but if we focus on a couple of priorities - say, tamping down 38½ St, and opposing a northbound freeway downramp at 34th St in alliance with adjacent associations speaking in unison, I think there's a chance of limited success. 

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