Spotlight put on traffic solutions in midst of SXSW

As tens of thousands of people try to get around Austin during SXSW, the city's transportation department is keeping an eye on the roads...trying to help make traffic less of a nightmare.

Today the city showed FOX 7 the Transportation Management Center.  They've got access to more than 200 traffic cameras all across the city.  When they see problems, they can fix them.

"There will still be a lot of congestion during SXSW but by us being able to see what's going on from here and take actions in terms of signal timing, having the police help direct traffic, making closing turn lanes and so forth, that we can help keep traffic moving," said Transportation Assistant Director Jim Dale.

Dale says the room gets very busy during SXSW.

"We typically go to 6:30 on weekday nights.  We'll be going to midnight coming up tomorrow and also Saturday night," Dale said.

Dale says they also monitor social media.  If there are reports of an accident, they can spin one of the cameras around and check it out. 
Mia Zmud is with a new transportation app called Metropia.  During SXSW a Metropia representative actually sits in the management center and puts the data onto the app.  Metropia incentivizes users to make better decisions about commutes -- and they're rewarded when they do.

"They receive points for doing that, for making those better decisions and not being a part of the traffic problem...and being a part of the solution," Zmud said.

But what about long-term traffic solutions?  On Thursday Capital Metro announced plans for a redeveloped Plaza Saltillo district.

"The idea is to create a place there that's a live/work/play environment so that people can get daily services there, be close to employment downtown, have a reasonably priced home and take advantage of the transit that's there," said Cap Metro board member Terry Mitchell.

By drawing people to the rail that's already there, Mitchell says it will help ease traffic.

"Denver has a report out that shows that 62% of the people who live or work really close to a train station use the train.  Well that means we're taking people off the roads," Mitchell said.

Aside from the transportation aspect of Plaza Saltillo, the Workers Defense Project held a rally in front of the Cap Metro headquarters.

Council Members Delia Garza and Pio Renteria both spoke.  The point of the rally was to encourage the Cap Metro board to adopt quote "Better Builder Standards" -- like appropriate wages and safe working conditions.
Cap Metro's Terry Mitchell responded and said their developer will have to comply with all laws, provide living wages and a safe environment.  He says there will be consequences if they don't.

The Cap Metro board is expected to vote on the Plaza Saltillo plans on Monday.  They expect to break ground next year.

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