Drinking water promised by the city amid a major water outage has arrived in Austin with the city putting a plan in place to get water to vulnerable residents first.
The city of Austin announced Thursday it had ordered one million gallons of water in 16-ounce bottles from six states in the Southeastern U.S. Additionally, the Texas Department of Emergency Management delivered two 18-wheelers full of water from a FEMA site in Fort Worth Friday morning.
The city will distribute the water to the community in a three-step plan to take place throughout this weekend.
- Phase One, which prioritizes those in most critical need, is already underway. Distribution efforts began Friday afternoon as shipments came in and included delivery to warming centers and shelters, COVID-19 isolation facilities and protection lodges, medical facilities and first-responder locations. The first phase has continued into Friday evening as the city moves into Phase Two.
- Phase Two targets populations including seniors, home-bound residents and other more vulnerable groups. Distribution will continue into Saturday, with the city teaming up with organizations such as Capital Metro and the Austin Disaster Relief Network to speed up delivery efforts.
- Phase Three will include distribution to the general public, which will begin on Sunday. Finalized locations will be released Saturday, but the city said their goal is to have a Point of Distribution site in each City Council district as well as important areas throughout Travis County. Each household will be able to take one case of water at the sites, which will operate from sun up to sun down.
Water remains scarce despite the latest efforts, so city officials recommend that those that can buy water do so instead. Local businesses have also opened up their doors to those seeking water with the condition that Austinites take their own container. View a list of places providing water here.
The announcement comes after Austin announced a boil water notice on Wednesday night, an emergency made even more substantial as many households were left without running water. In addition, around 18,000 Austinites were unable to boil water even if they had it as power outage issues persisted through Friday afternoon. According to Austin Energy, around 97% of customers had power restored, and lingering issues were likely due to fallen limbs or downed power lines.
Austin Water has continued to make progress and says that water utility could be restored as early as this weekend. A boil-water notice could persist much longer due to necessary testing that needs to be conducted to ensure safe drinking water.
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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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