As the murder rate in Austin hits a 10-year high and social turmoil is bubbling, it is reasonable to wonder how dangerous the city really is. According to a report from the FBI, Austin could be more dangerous, but that doesn't mean it's the safest.
According to the FBI's 2019 National Incident-Based Reporting System, Austin consistently falls around the middle of the deck among 21 similarly-sized cities with populations over 400,000. The report presents data about victims, known offenders, relationships for offenses and arrest data reported in 23 categories with 52 offenses, as well as 10 additional categories for which only arrest data is collected.
The data shows that Austin ranked 12th in crimes against society, 11th in crimes against persons and safest for crimes against property. Four other Texas cities were included in the list—Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Arlington—and frequently ranked safer than the capital city.
Of the 79,931 crimes committed within Austin city limits, 20,135 were crimes against persons, 7,294 were crimes against society and 52,502 were crimes against property in 2019, the report for this year.
In crimes against persons, Austin ranked at 11, below Fort Worth and Dallas, in fifth and 10th place, respectively. Houston and Arlington ranked 13th and 18th in the same category.
According to the FBI, 50.4% of victims involved in the crime against them knew their perpetrator, 24.4% were related to the offender and 25.1% were classified as strangers across the U.S.
Austin ranked below Dallas, Houston and Fort Worth, in sixth, eighth and 11th place, in crimes against society, while Arlington ranked 20th.
The report also showed women are slightly higher targets for a crime against society, a business or an institution at 51%, compared to men targeted at 48.2% of the time.
Crimes against property make up 59.6% of crimes across the national board, also Austin's highest offense. Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas ranked above Austin in third, sixth and seventh places, whereas Houston came in 14th.
Offenders of crimes against property tend to be white (51.9%), male (61.7%) and between 16-30 years old (38%), across U.S. data.
Though this year's report only showed the data for 22 cities, APD said as other cities transition from using Uniform Crime Reporting data to NIBRS data before January 2021, more cities will be added and will reflectmore accurate data.
Crime in 2020 has fluctuated, seeing small decreases in crimes like gambling, pocket-picking and commercial sex acts. Some outlets have pointed to such small drops, citing Austin crime is improving year-over-year, or that the crime cost per capita, $1,052, is lower than that of other cities.
In another study done by MoneyGeek, Austin ranked as the 9th safest "large" city based on its low cost of crime per capita.
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Designs for stations along Project Connect’s Blue Line were presented this week, giving a detailed look at what part of the rail system extending from downtown to the airport could look like.
The planned stations that have gotten the latest focus include Waterfront, Travis Heights and Lakeshore stations past Lady Bird Lake.
At the Waterfront station, the preliminary design aims to prevent visual obstructions and save on costs. This is accomplished by a transit guideway that will lower from the bridge to a level station.
Heading onto East Riverside Drive, the light rail faces a curve requiring a slow down to about 10 miles per hour.
The Travis Heights station could involve relocating a pedestrian crosswalk zone at Alameda Drive to Blunn Creek. Since light rails can't effectively operate on a steep grade, this allows the transit guideway to avoid that.
From there, the rail will extend to the Norwood Park area, and though it will reach along the right-of-way zone, the park will be able to remain open.
A view of the Blue Line by Lady Bird Lake. (Project Connect)
The line involves some coordination with the Texas Department of Transportation. That's because the department is working on an intersection that will have to be built before the phasing of the section of the Blue Line involving an I-35 crossing.
When it comes to the safety of cyclists and walkers, design ideas include a pedestrian hybrid beacon by East Bouldin Creek that would provide a protected signal to cross. And for the intersection TxDOT is carrying out, Project Connect is working with them on pedestrian access across the intersection. It could involve shared use paths along the street and crossings beneath it.
This summer, the public can expect 30% of design and cost estimates to be released. Though the project was $7.1 billion when voters approved it in November 2020, the latest estimates factoring in inflation and supply chain constraints show it could ultimately be upwards of $10 billion.
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Plans for an Amazon warehouse in Round Rock—a $250 million project slated to be a large distribution center—are on hold.
This comes just after the tech giant had its worst financial quarter in seven years.
- Late last year, it announced an expansion at the Domain adding 2,000 more corporate and tech jobs.
- Amazon still owns the site in Round Rock. Plans for it are unclear.
- Early this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon is aiming to scrap warehouse space as it faces a slowdown in its e-commerce operations.
Part of that effort involves exploring the possibility of ending or renegotiating leases with outside warehouse owners. Another aspect is a plan to sublease warehouse space.
“It allows us to relieve the financial obligations associated with an existing building that no longer meets our needs,” an Amazon spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal. “Subleasing is something many established corporations do to help manage their real estate portfolio.”
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