Austin schools, grocery stores, vaccine providers, public transit and airlines announced a second day of closures and other service impacts due to the ongoing winter storm, which has caused mass power outages and other issues.
Austin ISDcanceled classes Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as buses cannot transport students and internet and power outages may affect their ability to attend online classes. Friday will be an asynchronous learning day. The district will apply for a waiver from the Texas Education Agency to avoid needing bad weather makeup days.
Eanes ISDclosed all facilities and canceled remote instruction Tuesday. The district will provide an update on plans for Wednesday and beyond later in the day.
The University of Texas at Austin campus will remain closed at least through Thursday morning and all classes and events, including virtual and online ones, are canceled.
Austin Community College will remain closed through Wednesday, with all online and remote classes also canceled.
St. Edward's University has canceled all on-campus and remote work, virtual classes and activity through Wednesday morning.
Capital Metro suspended all services Tuesday, after doing the same on Monday. The transit agency is focusing on supporting those at cold weather shelters and those in need of life-saving trips, according to a spokesperson. Service impacts are anticipated on Wednesday.
H-E-B's Central Texas stores will reopen from noon to 5 p.m. after Monday closures. "At any time, store hours could be adjusted according to local conditions," according to the San Antonio-based grocer.
Austin Public Health closed its COVID-19 testing sites and vaccine clinics on Tuesday due to inclement weather. This is the second day that the department has done so. Approximately 2,300 second dose vaccine appointments were scheduled on Monday.
UT Health Austin, the clinical wing of Dell Medical School and one of two vaccine hub providers in Travis County along with Austin Public Health, canceled all vaccine appointments through Wednesday. Staff will reach out to appointment holders to reschedule at a later date.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport canceled all flights for the second day in a row.
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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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