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Traffic jam? Travis County asks Hays County to stop work on SH 45 connector because it would bring too much traffic

The final link on the SH 45 Loop chain is approaching a roadblock.

Travis County Commissioners have asked Hays County Commissioners to halt the State Highway 45 expansion project, which would create a 3.5-mile stretch connecting I-35 to FM 1626, feeding South Mopac.

Travis County Commissioners said they haven't been part of the discussion, citing the impact that the "missing link" would have on the area's traffic and growth.

"Making the connection from I-35 to FM 1626 would effectively make Mopac an I-35 bypass, dramatically increasing vehicular and truck traffic," the letter read. "The traffic impacts of this decision by Hays County would have a profound and detrimental effect almost entirely on Austin and Travis County."

Commissioners also cited environmental concerns. With traffic increasing on Balcones Canyonlands Preserve lands, City of Austin Water Quality Protection lands, the Edwards Aquifer and endangered species habitat, Travis County said the area's water quality and environment are at greater risk.

Hays County's Position

But Hays County has a different perspective. Around 40% of the county's residents work in Austin, while around 20% of Texas State University's commuters come from Austin. To access Mopac, many of those metro residents rely on FM 1626—a two-lane rural roadway—to go to school or work, causing congestion in the South Austin neighborhood of Shady Hollow.

“What it will do is relieve the pressure on 1626, and some of these in some of the eastern parts of the county that will have that connection between 1626 and 35,” Hays County Commissioner Mark Jones told KXAN.

Travis County expressed concerns that the area would experience rapid growth if the 3.5-mile stretch is built. Citing Hays County's 60% growth from 2000 to 2010 and a Texas Transportation Institute study, the county said growth has already occurred. Now, they say it's time to play catch-up.

"SH 45 can be built with access restrictions that limit sprawl along the roadway. It can be built with all of the environmental protections our ingenuity can contrive. It can be built with all the associated green space, landscaping, and neighborhood protections we desire. But it must be built," Hays County's website said.

Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra said he hopes to discuss the move between the courts and hear from the community. Becerra also said the Travis County letter will be discussed at the next Hays County Commissioners' Court meeting.


With deposition and trial looming, Elon Musk has offered $44B for Twitter, again

Elon Musk has proposed once again to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share.

The news that Musk is offering to carry on with the $44 billion buyout was first reported by Bloomberg. Now, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows Musk made the proposal in a letter to the tech giant on Monday.

The New York Stock Exchange temporarily halted trading in Twitter stock twice Tuesday, first because of a big price move and the second time for a news event, presumably the announcement of Musk's renewed offer.

While the per share offer price on this latest proposal remains the same as the original offer, it’s unclear if Musk has made other term changes or if Twitter would reject it. According to other reports, a deal could be reached this week.

The stock closed at $52.00/share Tuesday, indicating market uncertainty around the $54.20 offer.

After Musk informed Twitter of plans to terminate the original agreement in July, Twitter sued. A trial has been expected in Delaware Chancery Court on Oct. 17.

With the proposition of a buyout on the table again, it revives the question of whether Musk might move Twitter from San Francisco to Central Texas.

He’s done so with some of his other companies. Tesla’s headquarters in southeast Travis County had its grand opening earlier this year and tunneling business The Boring Company moved to Pflugerville. At least two other Musk companies, SpaceX and Neuralink, have a Central Texas presence without being headquartered here.

Technology journalist Nilay Patel this afternoon voiced concerns that owning Twitter and Tesla together could be problematic for Musk, as his Tesla manufacturing facilities in Germany and China are both in countries that have disputes with Twitter over content moderation and censorship.

Telsa shares fell after the Twitter news became public, before rallying to close up, at $249.44.

Austin rents nearly double in a year and are now in the top 5 nationwide

While searching for a place to live, Austin renters will face monthly rates of nearly $3,000, a recent guide from rental marketplace Dwellsy shows.

The median rent in August this year was $2,930, a more than 86% increase since August 2021. That’s $820 more than the nationwide median asking rent in August and puts Austin just below the Bay Area, Boston and New York for large cities with the most expensive asking rent.

“Within this group, Austin, TX stands out for the highest increases in asking rent, which has nearly doubled since this time last year,” the study notes.

Outside of those large cities, however, others are seeing even higher rent spikes. Metro areas that ranked above Austin in one-year increases include those like Kansas City, MO with a 112% change in rent since last August and Tucson, AZ with a 124% change.

The data reflects large apartment communities, single-family homes and 2-6 unit buildings.