February 2014 Mueller Update

Written by Rick Krivoniak

Due to the introduction of the new RapidBus line with the capability of maintaining a green signal a bit longer to help the “rapid” part of that system, anticipated dates for installing a traffic signal at Airport Blvd. and Zach Scott by the end of January, and one at E. 51st Street and Mueller Blvd. by the end of February, may slide a bit.

The Thinkery has seen larger than anticipated crowds since its December opening, likely due to cold weather and holiday school breaks. While the parking garage is open and free at this time, many visitors have opted for street parking instead. As weather warms, more folks visiting Lake Park will be competing for those spaces, so Thinkery visitors are urged to use the garage. Catellus is reviewing parking policies for the entire Mueller site. Many special events now have spillover parking into the neighborhoods, so a residential parking permit program is likely to be put in place in the near future. The Town Center parking garage will soon use a validation system, requiring visits to the Thinkery or future businesses for time-limited free parking. Metered street parking is also in Mueller’s future in and around businesses and parks – all the more encouragement for auto-alternative trips.

If you made the November 2013 WPNA meeting, you saw the very preliminary proposed changes to IH35 that would add a managed lane of traffic in each direction through central Austin, but close many entrances and exits – to be offset by “super-street” frontage roads that would flow north/south better but complicate east/west connections. The proposal has Mueller and nearby area residents concerned. Ambulance access to Dell Children’s Hospital has already modified some of the proposal that should help keep Windsor Park’s accessibility relatively intact, but the project generally fails in attenuation of the IH35 barrier between the east and west sides. Visit www.mobility35.org and check out the proposed concepts for Travis County to learn more, and sign up to receive the latest information and get involved.

A preliminary application to the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs for a “workforce” affordable apartment project at Mueller was made in January. A very similar project last year for a complex on Berkman Drive was not selected, but the criteria change each year. At about 175 units, most would be one-bedroom apartments, with some two-bedroom and a few three-bedroom units, and all the typical amenities found in most complexes, with some ground-level retail space. The project is aimed at the 80% of Seton, Home Depot and similar employees earning from $25K for an individual to $46K for a family, who find the central Austin rental market increasingly difficult to afford. If approved, the complex would be located somewhere in the block south of Barbara Jordan Blvd. between Berkman Dr. and Mueller Blvd.

The next Robert Mueller Municipal Airport Plan Implementation Advisory Commission meeting is Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 6PM in Meeting Room 1 of the Carver Library, 1161 Angelina Street. Please send Mueller-related questions & comments to .

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