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Reporter’s Notebook: Gondolas! Open Letters!

Monday, March 20, 2017 by Austin Monitor

High time… Perhaps in accordance with the leisurely speed at which its subject is known for, a long-awaited report on aerial gondolas is taking its sweet time in being made public. The high-flying transit alternative captured headlines last September when the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Board of Directors opted to bankroll the study of Jared Ficklin’s Wire One proposal, an imaginative vision that would run cable cars from the University of Texas to South Austin along Guadalupe and S. 1st streets. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute conducted the study, which had an original deadline of January. We can report that TTI has wrapped up its work and sent along the document to the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which along with the Austin Transportation Department chipped in on the study. On Friday, an agency spokesperson told the Austin Monitor that Capital Metro is on the verge of releasing the report and will keep us all posted. We hope against hope that they don’t leave us … wait for it … hanging.

It’s open letter season… Last week, we reported that AURA had written an open letter to Mayor Steve Adler expressing concern with the CodeNEXT process. Adler responded with an open letter of his own, assuring the group that the process will “not begin with 97% of the final product already decided.” Acknowledging that some of his comments may have been misinterpreted, he once again pushed for the compromise that he has dubbed the “Austin Bargain” and explained, “The 97% figure your letter referred to is my description of the cumulative size of the transition areas mentioned in my discussions of the Austin Bargain. It is not an indication of how much of the actual geographic land mass of this city will be left unchanged through CodeNEXT. (As an aside, I also believe that most of the city will not see material changes through CodeNEXT as large parts of the city are set otherwise, contained in non-walkable residential areas such as Circle C, etc.)”

Everything is just fine… Austin’s lack of Uber and Lyft received a lot of attention this past week, but the city continues to press on enforcing our regulations. A March 8 report from the Transportation Department explained that as of February, there are 11,968 individuals who have completed fingerprint background checks. Of those, 274 were not allowed to drive under city rules. In addition, all of the seven companies currently operating in the city have meet the “99 percent requirement” for background checks. All’s well.

This week’s Reporter’s Notebook comes from the notebooks of Caleb Pritchard and Elizabeth Pagano.

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