Photo courtesy of KVUE

To link people to jobs, invest in underserved areas and connect to affordable housing options, it is clear to the Austin Transit Partnership (ATP): there must be light rail from 38th Street to Oltorf Street to Yellow Jacket Lane.

"This option actually serves the greatest share of Black, indigenous and people of color, as well as the most affordable housing units," said Lindsay Wood, the executive vice president of engineering and construction for the ATP.

This will be the first phase of the Austin Light Rail implementation plan. It is almost 10 miles of new light rail across 15 stations. ATP leaders estimate it will serve 28,500 daily riders by 2040, and the anticipated capital cost of the project ranges between $4.5 to $4.8 billion.

So, how will this be financed?

Voters approved to build and fund the operations of the light rail three years ago as part of Project Connect. The ATP will also use federal grants.

"We don't need any additional revenue," said Greg Canally, executive director of the ATP.

The ATP estimates the light rail will serve more than 20,000 affordable housing units and bring access to more than 136,000 current jobs and more than 200,000 future jobs.

Now that the U.S. Census Bureau has ranked Austin as one of the top 10 largest cities by population, Wood believes Austinites like herself can use this light rail as a chance to "reclaim" their city.


Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Image courtesy of KVUE

TxDOT breaks ground on $606 million I-35 lane expansion

Stay in your lane

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) held a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday for part of the three-part Interstate 35 project.

At 10 am on March 29, TxDOT celebrated the beginning of construction on the Capital Express North I-35 project in Austin. The project will cost $606 million and will be on I-35 between State Highway 45 and U.S. 290 East.

The project aims to create one high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) managed lane in both directions. Additionally, it will rebuild six bridges; add a diverging diamond interchange (DDI) located at Wells Branch Parkway; reconstruct all entrance and exit ramps; and add intersection bypass lanes.

In addition to all these changes to this portion of the corridor, shared-use paths with be built to accompany the highway.

"We recognize the importance of this project that offers enhanced safety, increased mobility, and congestion relief, as well as more transit options," said Tucker Ferguson, TxDOT district engineer for Austin.

This is one part of three projects that TxDOT will be implementing across the city in an attempt to decongest I-35, which will cost a total of $5 billion.


Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Photo courtesy of CultureMap

Austinites wake to power outages as Winter Storm Warning is extended through Thursday

extended warning

The Winter Storm Warning for Central Texas has been extended until 6 am Thursday, and Austin is experiencing widespread power outages as a result. Light freezing rain and drizzle created significant travel issues on elevated roads through Tuesday, while a heavier round of freezing rain overnight into Wednesday morning brought significant icing to much of Central Texas.

Travel conditions Wednesday morning will be the worst of the week. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) began pretreating bridges and overpasses on major Austin roads on Sunday in preparation for the expected icy conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Even so, crashes and closures have been reported as roads remain slick.

Officials are warning residents to stay off the roads if they can because of icy conditions. If you must drive, take it slow. If a signal is dark, treat it as a four-way stop. An interactive map of road closures and a list of H-E-B closures can also be found on KVUE's website.

Through mid- and late morning Wednesday, temperatures remain below freezing for much of Central Texas with pockets of heavy freezing rain possible for western Travis, western Williamson and parts of the Hill Country. On Tuesday, Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell issued a disaster declaration, which activates the recovery and rehabilitation aspects of the Williamson County Emergency Management Plan and allows the County to take all legal actions necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of county residents, Williamson County said in a release.

By late afternoon Wednesday, warmer air will begin moving into the Austin metro. This could begin to ease icing concerns for the late day. However, for the northern I-35 corridor and Hill Country temperatures will remain below freezing, and this means icing issues could persist into Thursday morning, which is when the last round of precipitation moves through.

KVUE is continuing to update its list of weather-related school closures across the area.


Read the full versions of these stories and watch the videos at KVUE.com.

TxDOT provides update amid ongoing I-35 expansion plans in Austin

Traffic News

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is looking at expanding Interstate 35 in Austin along an 8-mile stretch.

The department is looking at two options. The first is to not make any changes. The other option is adding four HOV lanes in the center with two on each side of I-35.

"In order to use those, you will either need to be a in a bus, or carpool, or a van pool, or multi-person vehicles. So, a single-occupancy vehicle would continue to use existing general-purpose lanes but these HOV lanes would move more people along the corridor," said Tucker Ferguson, division engineer for the TxDOT Austin Division.

Ferguson said Austin continues to grow and that around 200,000 vehicles use I-35 each day. That number is projected to double in the next 20 years.

"It’s to prevent congestion relief and improve safety along the corridor," said Ferguson.

There are more than 100 properties, including businesses, that could be impacted by the project, and TxDOT will also be conducting more environmental studies along the whole stretch — including near Lady Bird Lake.

TxDOT will welcome public commentary through March 7, and Austinites can head to my35capex.com for details on how to have their comments included in the official hearing record.


Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Photo by Mitchell Kmetz on Unsplash

New self-driving car service from San Francisco officially cruises into Austin

Baby You Can't Drive My Car

A rite of passage as an Austinite is feeling bewildered at other drivers’ choices behind the wheel, but that’s starting to change. Cruise, a driverless ridehailing app, has completed its first driverless rides in Austin, marking its official launch.

It was a quick turnaround for the company, which announced its intentions in the Capital City in September, calling the feat “going from zero to driverless in about 90 days.” The service is only in three cities so far — based in San Francisco and expanded out to Austin and Phoenix — but given the success of that timeline, it’s reasonable to expect much more as soon as the company announces it.

“Folks, we are entering the golden years of [autonomous vehicle] expansion,” tweeted Crusie CEO Kyle Vogt while announcing the achievement on December 20.

Vogt seems to be right, at least in Austin. News about driverless vehicles keeps popping up, from pioneering autonomous Lyft rides to independent delivery robots for Chick-fil-A and Ikea. A major difference is the patron; while most other autonomous driving news is centered on using the technology for a well-known company providing value in other spaces, Cruise is driving for itself. (It has, however, received investment funds from companies like Honda and Walmart.)

Rider testimony focuses on safety with an aura of giddiness. Even amid the novelty displayed in a video Vogt shared, riders talked about the vehicle’s caution and smoothness. A safety page on the company’s website claims several measures including constant 360-degree vision, a sensitivity to even very light external touch, and communication between fleet vehicles to assist in machine learning. And if all else fails, the company emphasizes “end-to-end redundancy,” meaning that the system can compensate for failures.

Few topics polarize Austinites like opinions on driverless vehicles and this city’s magnetism for testing experiences. Love it or hate it, this is quintessential Austin.

Join the waitlist at getcruise.com.

Courtesy of Argo AI.

Hop into a self-driving Lyft, starting soon in Austin

New Drivers

KVUE — You may have already seen some of the white Ford cars driving around the streets of Austin with the Argo AI emblem. Argo AI started operations in Austin back in 2019, but it is now expanding more of its services to the public.

The group has about 20 self-driving cars on Austin streets, but for now, they still have a testing specialist in the driver’s seat.

“Our vehicles are designed to be autonomous, so that someday in the future, when they meet the standard for both safety and quality, there will not be testing specialists in the vehicle,” said Sly Majid, the government relations manager for Argo AI.

Right now, a pilot program is underway for autonomous grocery delivery. Argo AI partnered with Walmart and is serving customers in Austin, and soon they will be starting a new pilot program with Lyft.

“The really interesting and cool opportunity that's coming up is that residents in the community will be able to use their Lyft app to hail a ride in an autonomous vehicle,” said Majid.

They did not give an exact date on when this will be launching, but said it would be in the near future. Although an actual person with Argo AI will be in the car to pick up Lyft users, they hope that won’t be the case for long.

“For right now, we will have a testing specialist in the vehicle, but one day that will change,” said Majid.

Argo AI is the only autonomous vehicle company to have self-driving operations in two cities. The first it started in was Miami, which already has public Lyft operations underway. It also has done some testing in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Palo Alto, Munich and Hamburg. He said Austin is a perfect place for testing due to how busy it is. He said if they can operate in Austin, then they can operate anywhere.


Read the full story and watch the video on KVUE.com.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

4 Austin-inspired cocktail recipes to whisk you away from the Texas heat this summer


Now that summer weather has arrived in Austin, we can tell you’re thirsting for some new drinks to try. And with World Gin Day coming up on June 10, we’re sharing a few recipes from local Austin restaurants (and Austin’s favorite Topo Chico!) we hope you’ll enjoy.

The following recipes feature some of our favorite ingredients or mixers we’re loving at the moment. Whether your drink of choice is a cocktail or mocktail, we’ve gathered four bright and bubbly beverages to help whisk you away from the Texas heat. And if you prefer to drink them rather than make them, three of these lovely libations can be found on the seasonal summer menus at their respective restaurant.

Aba’s Rhubarb Rose Gin and Tonic
This cocktail was created by Senior Beverage Manager Thomas Mizuno-Moore.

½ oz lime juice
¼ oz honey syrup
½ oz Fruitful Mixology rhubarb liqueur
¾ oz Brockmans Gin
¾ oz Hendrick’s Flora Adora
2 oz tonic water
Rosebud tea, for garnish


  • Combine lime juice, honey syrup, Fruitful Mixology rhubarb liqueur, Brockmans Gin and Hendrick’s Flora Adora in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake until cold.
  • Add tonic water to the shaker, then strain over fresh ice in a double old fashioned glass.
  • Garnish with rosebud tea and enjoy!

Blueberry Sparkler Mocktail by Topo ChicoBecause everyone needs a good go-to mocktail recipe in their life.Photo courtesy of Topo Chico

Blueberry Sparkler Mocktail by Topo Chico
This beverage might not be gin-themed, but it does make a great refreshing mocktail. If you don’t have Topo Chico Sabores on hand, you can substitute it with sparkling water.

1 Blueberry Topo Chico Sabores
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ cup water
½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon slices and additional blueberries, for garnish

Blueberry Syrup Directions:

  • In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the blueberries are soft and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the blueberry mixture to cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Once cooled, use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the blueberry mixture into a bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the solids and set the blueberry syrup aside.

Mocktail Directions:

  • In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 ounce of the blueberry syrup, and lemon juice. Fill the shaker with ice and shake well until chilled, about 15-20 seconds.
  • Fill a glass with ice and strain the mixture into the glass. Top off the glass with Blueberry Topo Chico Sabores (or sparkling water) and give it a gentle stir to mix.
  • Garnish with lemon slices and additional blueberries, if desired. Enjoy your refreshing Blueberry Sparkler!

Tillie's seasonal summer cocktailThis colorful cocktail is a lively take on a gin martini.Photo courtesy of Tillie's at Camp Lucy

Empress Gin Martini by Tillie’s at Camp Lucy
This martini recipe was developed by Paolo Lazarich, the mixologist for Abbey Row Restaurant at The Old Bell Hotel in the United Kingdom. Fun fact: Camp Lucy owners Kim and White Hanks also own The Old Bell Hotel, which is rumored to be England’s oldest hotel.

3 oz Empress 1908 Gin
1 oz dry vermouth
Splash of lemon juice
Lemon and rosemary for garnish


  • Add the Empress 1908 Gin, dry vermouth, and lemon juice to a glass and stir gently.
  • Garnish with a lemon wedge and a sprig of rosemary. Enjoy.

\u200bSummertime Spritz by Dean's Italian Steakhouse There's nothing like a summer spritz.Photo courtesy of Dean's Italian Steakhouse

Summertime Spritz by Dean's Italian Steakhouse
This recipe is geared toward a mixologist who enjoys the little details that make a cocktail so unique, such as making their own oleo saccharum or curating the perfect flower as a garnish.

½ oz lemon juice
½ oz strawberry oleo saccharum
¼ oz Aperol
¼ oz Giffard Abricot
1.5 oz Zephyr Gin
2 oz Brut champagne
1 each cocktail flower


  • Combine all ingredients except Brut champagne into a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously, about 15-20 seconds.
  • Fill a wine glass with ice and add the Brut. Fine strain the cocktail into the glass.
  • Garnish with the cocktail flower

Extravagant estate in West Austin hits the market for $4.25 million


An imperial estate in the Lost Creek neighborhood of West Austin has become the latest addition to the city's stabilizing real estate market. The property was listed at $4.25 million.

The magnificent three-story home was originally built in 2009, making great use of Austin's Hill Country views that can be seen from every single room. The home spans 8,215 square feet on just over two acres of land, surrounded by lush trees and enclosed with a private gated entrance.

Natural light floods the inside of the home, highlighting intricate details and complimenting the high ceilings. The home boasts five bedrooms, four bathrooms, and three half-baths. The primary suite is reminiscent of an upscale resort, containing its own spa-like bathroom, walk-in closets, and access to a private balcony.

In the kitchen, the 60-inch wolf range is an aspiring chef's dream. The area has plenty of space and storage with its rich brown cabinets, a sub-zero refrigerator, a cabinet-mounted wine rack, two sinks, and more.

8105 Talbot Lane in AustinThe 60-inch wolf range is an aspiring chef's dream.Photo courtesy of JPM Real Estate Photography

A few other highlights of the home include a game room, media room, terraces, and a resort-style pool deck with an accompanying hot tub, kitchen, and fire pit. The two-car garage also includes a guest suite above it, with a single bedroom, kitchenette, and half bath.

Looking into the property's history, it was listed in June 2022 for $4.9 million, which was reduced to $3.9 million by September. The home was reported as sold in October of that year before being re-listed for its current $4.25 million price in 2023.

8105 Talbot Lane in Austin

Photo courtesy of JPM Real Estate Photography

The estate is located at 8105 Talbot Lane in West Austin.

The estate is located at 8105 Talbot Lane, which is a brief 10 minutes from downtown Austin, and is zoned for the highly-esteemed Eanes Independent School District. The listing is held by agent Wade Giles of Douglas Elliman.

Uchi spinoff to debut "whisky omakase," bar pairings, and bao in Austin

Raising the Bar

Uchibā isn't a new concept, nor is it newly promised to Austin, but it's finally getting closer to becoming a reality. The bar and restaurant spinoff from Uchi (translated as "Uchi Bar") announced today that it is set to open in late summer in the Google Tower.

Hai Hospitality, the parent group of famous omakase restaurant Uchi, more casual sushi restaurant Uchiko, and drop-in Asian barbecue restaurant Loro, announced the idea in October of 2021, setting a launch date in fall of 2022. The intent was always to open the restaurant in the Google Tower (601 West 2nd St.), so the difference now is just timing.

The original Uchibā opened in Dallas in 2019, operating upstairs from Uchi, an Austin export. This exchange is now coming back around, blurring the lines of what's from which Texas city. Similarly, the lines are blurred between what each restaurant serves, since Uchibā does include some of Uchi and Uchiko's most popular dishes: hot and cool tastings, agemono (deep fried bites), raw fish rolls, yakitori, and more, including dessert.

Of course, there will be lots of menu items that are unique to Uchibā, especially when informed by the spirits behind the bar. Some of these food and drink pairings include the Hawaiian-ish spiced ham misubi with nori, rice, and tepahe, a fermented pineapple drink; and the vodka and caviar with olive oil, burnt butter, brioche, and chives. As well as these "duos," the bar will offer omakase flights for whiskey and agave spirits.

“At Uchi we combine flavors and textures to create what we call the ‘perfect bite,’” said Chef Tyson Cole, the James Beard Award-winning chef who started the Uchi brand, in a press release. “With Uchibā, we wanted to take that a step further by unifying food with cocktails and spirits. Our 'Perfect Pairs' and the whisky omakase play off this idea with intentional combinations of food, cocktails and the the amazing array of Japanese whiskies behind the bar.”

Some menu items aren't just unique to Uchibā; They're also only available at the Austin location, thanks to its chef de cuisine, Vaidas Imsha. His menu includes categories that don't appear at the Dallas location — "Buns + Bao" and dumplings — and a long list of items that could constitute their own menu independently. Among these are a Caesar salad with Japanese twists; a Wagyu beef bulgogi with radish kimchi; two fish crudos with refreshing additions like asian pear and cucumber aguachile; and the more straightforward karaage spiced up with kimchi caramel and yuzu pear.

Uchibā will operate Sunday through Thursday from 4-10 pm; until midnight on Fridays; and until 11 pm on Saturdays. Happy Hour will be from 4-6 pm Monday through Friday.

Uchiba Austin

Photo courtesy of Uchibā

Although Uchi is from Austin, Uchiba, the upstairs bar, has only existed in Dallas until now.