TxDOT has not even begun its SH 45 SW/Mopac toll loop plan, but already it is violating promises to protect the Edwards Aquifer and endangered species.
In the pdf Shudde Fath et al, v. TxDOT and CTRMA lawsuit (1.66 MB) over the proposed SH 45 SW/Mopac toll loop, TxDOT told the court in June that there would be no construction on the SH 45 SW Phase I piece of the loop before October and no construction on the misnamed “Mopac Intersections” piece before December.
But in a pdf Status Report (38 KB) filed with the court July 28, TxDOT disclosed that it had allowed AT&T crews to undertake trenching and tunneling along Mopac north of Slaughter Lane in order to move cable lines out of the way of the planned construction. TxDOT reported that as AT&T was boring a tunnel under the existing Mopac lanes “when the bore reamer passed through gravel, the bore hole collapsed, and AT&T excavated a pit to recover the bore reamer.”
When AT& T informed TxDOT of the problem, TxDOT tells the court that it “directed AT&T to stop the work and fill in any excavations it made.” It goes on to tell the court that it “regrets the miscommunications within TxDOT’s own offices which lead to the activities.”
Barton Springs University (BSU) will be held September 28th from 8am until 9pm at Barton Springs Pool. BSU is a full day of outdoor learning and fun at Barton Springs Pool with learning sessions and hands-on activities. It also includes an evening keynote as well as live music. The event is designed for high school and college students and the general public.
BSU is organized by the Save Our Springs Alliance in partnership with, among others, the University of Texas Environmental Science Institute, the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District, the City of Austin Parks & Recreation and Watershed Protection Departments, the City of Austin, Texas State University, the Austin Independent School District, Lone Star Sierra Club, and Save Barton Creek Association.
go to BartonSpringsUniversity.org for additional information.
On July 18th Save Our Springs Alliance and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a second federal lawsuit challenging a portion of TxDOT's push to expand and extend South Mopac over the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. This excellent KXAN news piece covered the story - explaining that TxDOT had sidestepped an Endangered Species Act requirement that it engage with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to assure, at minimum, that the proposed addition of six (6) lanes to the southern two miles of Mopac plus the construction of cross bridges at Slaughter and LaCrosse will not harm listed endangered species. The pdf new lawsuit (153 KB) will likely be consolidated with the pdf pending suit by SOS (1.66 MB) and eleven other parties that calls for TxDOT to complete a comprehensive environmental study on the proposed Mopac/45SW toll loop before building any piece of it. Absent these legal actions, TxDOT and its toll road partner, CTRMA, seek to begin construction as soon as October on the 3.6 mile SH 45 SW toll road. Learn more at KeepMopacLocal.org.
The July 18th Statesman's front page reports on the pdf federal lawsuit (1.66 MB) Save Our Springs Alliance filed together with former Austin mayors Carole Keeton and Frank Cooksey, music legends and community leaders Jerry Jeff and Susan Walker, and seven other parties, including neighborhood groups and the Friends of the Wildflower Center. The Statesman report by combined reporter/transportation opinion writer Ben Wear is slanted as usual. There's no mention of the other plaintiff-members of the Keep Mopac Local coalition or their interests that extend beyond protecting Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer. The Statesman has steadfastly avoided informing its readers of the harm the 45SW/Mopac South toll loop would do to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin High School, Lady Bird Lake Park, or existing Mopac commuters. The Statesman piece does make clear that the battle will likely be resolved over the next few months.
Twenty-six years ago today over 800 Austinites showed up at City Hall to protest the proposed 4,000 acre "Barton Creek PUD" development. The City Council heard public testimony all through the night, and voted as the sun rose the next day to deny the project. That night sparked the "Save Our Springs" movement, and led directly to Austin voters approving the citizen-initiated Save Our Springs ordinance in August 1992.
Watch excerpts from the Barton Creek Uprising here and read a document brief history of citizen advocacy (614 KB) for Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer in our letter to SOS members from last year. Check out Austin photographer extraordinaire Alan Pogue's photos from the June 7th, 1990 Barton Creek Uprising here.