Experts Say Creating ‘Mini Cities’ in Austin Could Ease Traffic and Affordability Issues

There’s lots to love about Austin — the nightlife, the food, the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, and so on. But there are two major things we love to hate about our city: increasingly jammed traffic and increasingly unaffordable housing. A new report indicates Austin could tackle both of those nagging issues by taking advantage of more than 1,300 acres for what essentially would become mini cities within the larger city. In a report, experts assembled by the Urban Land Institute identified 1,350 acres within Austin that could fit into the city’s current zoning framework for “transit-oriented development,” or TOD. Anchored by a transit station, a TOD features a mix of office, residential, retail, entertainment, and other spaces in a compact walkable and bikeable area. The report says the 1,350 acres consist of parcels located within one-fourth of a mile of existing MetroRail commuter tracks and existing high-frequency bus routes. Furthermore, another 400 acres along two proposed new MetroRail lines would also be ripe for TOD status, according to the report. An interactive map created in tandem with the report shows many of these TOD-ready parcels are located:
Along I-35 in South Austin, between West Dittmar Road and West Slaughter Lane. Along State Highway 71 East near U.S. Highway 183 East, just west of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Along North Lamar Boulevard near U.S. Highway 183 West. Advocates of TODs tout their ability to boost public transit ridership, reduce dependence on cars, encourage construction of affordable housing, and promote responsible use of land. Click to read more at