Photo by Mitzie Stelte
Bicycle and pedestrian bridges to be built over Barton Creek and Loop 360
On March 8, the Austin City Council authorized the design and construction of bicycle and pedestrian bridges in the MoPac Expressway corridor over Barton Creek and Loop 360.
The project would provide a 14-foot wide trail extending from Southwest Austin to downtown separated from MoPac.
Construction of the project’s first phase, a larger bridge over Barton Creek, is slated to begin in November 2013, while construction on the second phase, a smaller bridge over Loop 360, is scheduled to begin in November 2014. The entire project’s expected completion date is December 2015 at a cost of more than $10 million.
According to the city, the project—a partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation—is approximately 70 percent funded by federal and state funds and ranks highly in two mobility plans.
Austin officials shift vote on utility rate hike to May 24
The Austin City Council set a timeline March 1 detailing 11 work sessions to examine rate increase options for Austin Energy with a vote on a final plan anticipated for May 24.
City Council discussed a proposed interim 3.5 percent system-wide increase targeted to begin in June. The proposal was a result of the utility’s claim that if new rates were not in place by this summer, it would lose $77 million this year.
However, AE General Manager Larry Weis told City Council the proposal would not be sufficient.
He said the utility actually preferred no interim increase and for council to instead focus on working on a final rate plan.
Paper bags included in ban
The Austin City Council unanimously passed a bag ban ordinance March 1 that covers both paper and plastic bags. The ban will begin in March 2013.
The ban is one of the broadest in the country to ban single-use bags, though retail checkout counter bags are not banned entirely. Customers will be allowed reusable bags from home or purchasable plastic bags that are at least 4 millimeters thick with handles, paper bags made of recycled content with handles or other types of reusable bags at prices set by the retailer.
Council members made some modifications to the proposal before passage, including the elimination of a transaction fee for disposable bags as well as doing away with a one-year transitional period.
City lengthens outdoor music hours near homes
The Austin City Council approved March 8 a two-hour extension of outdoor music in residential areas as long as venues provide written proof of approval by nearby residents or neighborhood associations. The ordinance states that outdoor music is permitted within 600 feet of residential property from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. until midnight Friday and Saturday based on the agreements with owners and tenants of nearby property and affected neighborhood organizations.