March 20, 2018

Expressway News

A Good Neighbor to the Community

At the Mobility Authority, our projects are all about making the community a better place. They’re about improving quality of life for those who travel our roadways between work, home and play. We know that reliable travel times equate to more quality time spent with family and friends, more time spent giving back to the community, engaging in a hobby, or exploring your beloved hometown. Just as importantly, less time stuck in traffic also equates to a thriving economy. The efficient movement of people and goods incentivizes business already located here to expand, while attracting new businesses to begin operations here. That growth sustains the Central Texas region and we are proud to play a role in its evolution.
Having a central role in the success of our region is also a responsibility—one that we do not take lightly. Each time we take on a new project, we renew our commitment to becoming ingrained in the affected community, and to leave that community a better place than it was. Based on the success of our roadways open to traffic today, we’re confident that our future projects will also carry regional significance once they’re open to traffic. However, while construction is ongoing, we do our best to mitigate disruption through our Good Neighbor and Good Neighbor to Business programs. The 183 South project is our most recent example of efforts to be a proactive force in the communities we serve.
We’ve had the opportunity make a meaningful impact, in collaboration with neighborhood and business groups. We value those trusted partnerships and want to thank those who have welcomed our efforts.

A Good Neighbor to Business
During the construction process on the 183 South project, we learned from adjacent business owners that there were concerns about lost revenue resulting from construction operations. While our goal is always to maintain business access, some business driveways are more difficult to access when crews are working in the immediate area. There’s no denying that construction is an inconvenience, so we made an effort to mitigate that disruption by initiating the “Good Neighbor to Business Program,” an initiative that will be expanded to future Mobility Authority projects as well.

Under this program, the project contractor provides project employees with financial incentive to patronize businesses along the corridor. For every transaction, the employee’s name is entered into a monthly drawing for one of four $50 cards. On the 183 South project, we have more than 20 participating retailers, such as gas stations, restaurants, and more. With more than 600 project team employees, localizing our spending on goods and services to these businesses is already making a difference. Since the program began in June 2017, we have recorded more than $12,000 in spending at participating retailers and employees are reinvesting their winnings back into the corridor by choosing gift cards from local businesses. With widespread participation among businesses and project team employees on the 183 South project, we are confident this program will have a similar positive impact for our future projects as well.
Project team employees buy lunch from one of the participating Good Neighbor to Business restaurants
Callahan’s General Store: An Austin Institution
One of our participating retailers is Callahan’s General Store, an iconic family-run farm and Western Wear store located on US 183 near the Colorado River crossing.  Many of our project team members frequent Callahan’s, which opened its doors for business in June 1978 and stands today as a tribute to its founders, the late Lucy and Earl Callahan. Not only has it become an Austin Institution, but a Central Texas destination with a national and international customer base.

Charley Wilson, President, CEO and General Manager of Callahan’s General Store, knew that construction of the project would come with its inconveniences, but has his eye on the long term benefits the finished project will provide.  

“Among the number of things that make for a successful retail business is its location. Over the past four decades, one reason Callahan’s General Store has weathered the transformations, transitions and generational turnovers in Austin is our location,” Charley says. “We accept that the construction phase is disruptive for everyone -- for those who drive US 183 to get to the airport, downtown, or elsewhere, and those who drive to and from Callahan’s General Store. 

“With an eye on the long-term benefits for local residents and local businesses, I applaud the planners for including a Texas turnaround at Patton Ave. When the project is complete, our customers coming from the north will be able to easily access Callahan’s and other businesses.”

Callahan’s is part of the Austin culture and represents the rich character of a region we are proud to serve.  Preserving and promoting Austin institutions like this is a priority for us at the Mobility Authority.
A Team Effort 
The Good Neighbor to Business program is open to participation by all project employees—from construction crew members to oversight team members to office engineers.  One of our recent winners is Bobby Doherty, the 183 South project’s chief construction inspector. Bobby oversees 23 inspectors in the field who are responsible for quality assurance and making sure the project is built to specifications.

Bobby is a major advocate of the Good Neighbor to Business Program. Being out in the field every day, he sees firsthand the impacts to businesses that inevitably result from rebuilding such a major transportation corridor. “I buy my gas exclusively at gas stations along the 183 South corridor,” Bobby says. “There are a few that we have impacted significantly, in terms of driveway access and temporary lane closures. I want to do everything I can to mitigate the disruption.”

Bobby is excited about the benefits the 183 South project will bring, in terms of enhanced mobility and connectivity. “Getting through the corridor today can be a hassle, with all of the traffic signals you have to stop at. When the project is complete, you will have the option to bypass every single traffic signal between US 290 and SH 71—a commute that can take about 30 minutes today, or more. It will also serve as a bypass for I-35 traffic, which will be particularly helpful once reconstruction efforts on the I-35 corridor begin.”

Bobby Doherty (far left) with his team of inspectors out in the field

We Look Forward to Seeing You in the Community 
We know that construction impacts communities. Our efforts will ultimately improve your commute experience, and we want to make the journey as painless as possible in the meantime. It is our hope that through these community events, sponsorships and initiatives, that we can mitigate the disruption and help keep the community connected in a positive way. We look forward to seeing you out in the community! If you have a community event or initiative you would like us to consider getting involved in, contact our Community Relations Team at 512-996-9778.