Horns Down for March 26: Urban Rail, juvenile courts and high priced limes


Horns Down: Urban rail plan struggles to cross river

On Monday, the Austin American-Statesman reported that building a bridge or tunnel for the Urban Rail line to cross Lady Bird Lake could cost anywhere between $75 million and $475 million to construct. The rail line plans cut through downtown, and the city originally entertained the possibility of crossing the river along the I-35 overpass until recent talks with the Texas Department of Transportation ruled out the possibility. Understandably, the city is moving on to back up plans. But the projected bill — with its $400 million range — raises concerns about what the new plans will look like, and we will likely not have a clear understanding until an upcoming May proposal. Horns Down to all the back and forth surrounding Urban Rail and the doubt it has cast over the entire project.

Horns Down: Texas still dropping the ball on juvenile justice

Two legislative committees considered pressing criminal justice issues Tuesday. In the first hearing of the day, the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee heard testimony on whether to raise the age at which a criminal is considered an adult. Currently, Texas, which treats 17-year-olds as adults, is one of just 10 states that set that bar below 18. However, some are advocating an increase to bring Texas in line with the majority of the states. In the hearing, Houston Democrat John Whitmire, chairman of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee, blasted the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, claiming it suffered from inefficient spending, high re-arrest and re-incarceration rates, and a failure to sufficiently segregate violent offenders from non-violent offenders. Horns down to the Juvenile Justice Department’s abysmal performance and the state’s continued outlier treatment of youth. 

Horns Down: Lime prices rising, Tex-Mex dishes threatened

According to a report by KUT News on Tuesday, lime prices have been on the rise in recent months — which is clearly bad news for a city fueled by happy hour margaritas and lime-garnished Tex-Mex. In the face of rising lime costs, some restaurants have even started cutting back on usage of the citrus fruit to conserve product on hand. South Austin eatery La Moreliana has stopped garnishing its tacos with the fruit, for example. The report concluded that the rising prices may be tied to cartel violence in the Mexican state of Michoacan or to a spate of recent flooding in neighboring states. Whatever the cause, Horns Down to rising lime prices, and let’s hope we’ll always be able to get a good deal on Mexican Martinis at Trudys’ happy hour.