Austin Moves Forward with $720 million Mobility Bond

August 8, 2016 by Kate Harrington

Austin City Council members have voted to move forward with a $720 million mobility bond, and have until Aug. 22 to put a proposition on the ballot for a Nov. 8 vote.

The proposed $720 million in spending would break down to:

  • $101 million in Regional Mobility Projects
  • $482 million for Corridor Improvement Projects
  • $137 million for Local Mobility Projects

The package will attempt to hit several mobility areas at once, from regional roads to mass transit. The largest piece, for corridor improvements, would put in place the recommendations in the City’s corridor studies for seven Austin corridors: Burnet Road, Airport Boulevard, East Riverside Drive, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, North and South Lamar Boulevards, and Guadalupe Street.

The local mobility portion would put money toward non-vehicle improvements: $55 million toward the sidewalk master plan, $30 million for the urban trails master plan, $20 million for the bicycle master plan, and $15 million for the Vision Zero plan. That’s significantly less than pedestrian, bicycle, and other mode-shift advocates had hoped for, but Austin Mayor Steve Adler has argued that making the seven corridors into “Smart Corridors” will also benefit transit, bicycles, and pedestrians.

Turning the old state highways into Smart Corridors means making basic, simple changes such as installing smart traffic lights that can be timed remotely and automatically, putting in turn lanes and medians so you’re not stuck behind someone waiting to turn left, adding pullouts so buses get out of traffic when letting passengers on and off (and cue jumps so they can get a head start on traffic), and building sidewalks and protected bike lanes so people can get where they are going safely,” Adler wrote on Medium. “Because a Smart Corridor would be good for vehicle traffic, many people assume that it would be anti-bike, anti-bus, and anti-pedestrian. This is not at all true. Got a bike? You get a safe way to get around on busy streets. Same with kids and their parents walking to school or just in the neighborhood.

Council will have public comment period in its Aug. 11 meeting.

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Written by Kate Harrington

Kate is a former reporter, most recently for the Austin Business Journal, where she covered real estate, economic development and transportation. Since 2010 she has been running Thumbtack Communications. Thumbtack provides writing, editing and marketing services. Before moving to Austin in 2002 Kate lived in her native New England, which she still visits often to escape the Texas heat.