In the last column, I previewed a couple of meetings that were upcoming this week, so I’ll follow with a brief recap this time around. First came Tuesday’s update on the Capital Express Central plan to rebuild I-35 through Central Austin and actually, my pagemate Mike Clark-Madison has that covered in some detail here. I’ll note only that while the TxDOT presentation was pretty upbeat about all the improvements they’ve made in the new plan in response to public input – some of them quite striking – the critics’ reviews were out the next morning, and they were, shall we say, mixed.
“Rethink35 is unreservedly slamming [TxDOT]’s updated I-35 plans and is calling for an immediate halt to the I-35 Capital Express Central Project,” read that coalition’s statement, while Reconnect Austin was considerably more measured: “The Modified Alternative 3, shared today by TxDOT, reflects progress towards our common goals. Reconnect Austin will continue to work with all stakeholders to design a project which will further contribute to those shared goals. We encourage everyone to review these new plans for I-35 Central and provide feedback to TxDOT as soon as possible. Additional input on today’s significant modifications will help further refine this project.” So, will all the slamming and sharing in the world affect any further course change on this enormous dreadnought that’s heading down the interstate toward us? Find out by telling TxDOT what you think at my35capex.com.
Wednesday’s Urban Land Institute Austin monthly breakfast meeting – to introduce and discuss the Austin Economic Development Corporation‘s Austin Cultural Trust and its real-estate-driven mission to preserve and create music venues and other creative arts spaces in the city – didn’t have either the controversy or the reveal factor of the TxDOT meeting the night before. It’s easy to make the case for nurturing the cultural community, especially in a city that hangs its hat on its creative class. And since the almost-2-year-old initiative hasn’t actually done anything yet, it hasn’t done anything wrong yet. The devil will surely be in the details, but everyone’s sounding all the right notes, with the right tone of urgency, as they start finally looking at actual project proposals for funding in the first round of investments. And for his real estate audience, John Riedie of Austin Creative Alliance had the following pitch: “This is a long-term play. If your industry is going to be thriving in 20 years, the culture of this city is going to have to be thriving in 20 years. We want to make it so that young artists still want to come here and create work. And that grassroots stuff … that three-person organization making some crazy experimental theatre right now, could one day be producing HBO series here in town.” If they have somewhere to do their work, that is. Read more about the fund, and how to reply to the request for proposals, at austinedc.org/cultural-trust.
Register to vote: This coming Monday, Jan. 31, is the deadline to register in order to vote in the March primaries. If you don’t have a current voter registration card, you can check your status, or register online, at the Texas Secretary of State website. Or register in person at the County Clerk’s voter registration division at 5501 Airport Blvd. (Mon.-Fri., 7:30am-4pm) or satellite locations (Mon.-Fri., 8am-4pm): 4011 McKinney Falls Pkwy., 15822 Foothill Farms Loop in Pflugerville, or 8656 Hwy. 71 W. in Oak Hill.
And speaking of deadlines, 5pm this Friday, Jan. 28, is the deadline to apply for anAustin Music Disaster Relief Grant, a city program which provides one-time, unrestricted $2,000 grants to local musicians and music industry workers facing hardships due to COVID. Learn more and apply online at austintexas.gov/department/austin-music-disaster-relief-grant.
Send gossip, dirt, innuendo, rumors, and other useful grist to nbarbaro at austinchronicle.com.