Texas Highway 130, a new Austin bypass toll road, is so far east of the city that it sees little traffic. The state recently raised the speed limit there to 85 mph in hopes of boosting its use.
Mayor Lee Leffingwell, a native Austinite, says he’s watching automobile traffic slowly ruin his beautiful city.
"There was kind of an epiphany — a moment in time when we realized that we are going to have to quit ignoring the problem, which we’d done for so many years in the past," Leffingwell says.
An ‘If We Don’t Build It, They Won’t Come’ Mentality
While Austin fiddled decade after decade, Dallas was busy building the largest light rail system in the country. Thirty years later, the Texas city with the conservative reputation has the regional mass transit network, not Austin. Austin has done practically nothing in that regard…
Like many in Austin, businessman Kevin Tuerff moved here to attend the University of Texas and never left. Ten years ago, he bought his dream home in the Austin Hill Country. Traffic has become a mess as the population has exploded.
By last year, Tuerff was fed up with two hours on the road every day. Now he rents a high-rise apartment in a gleaming new building downtown.
"My office is about five minutes by car or 12 minutes by bicycle," he says. "And that’s what I love about this place."
Tuerff is part of that 40 percent that Lomax needs to make his transportation models work. And there’s a growing population of successful professionals paying $3,000 to $5,000 in rent every month for the privilege of walking and biking to work and play.
But what about Austin’s many musicians and artists — and, in fact, everybody else?