We’ve done the studies. Now it’s time to take the test, and a passing grade is $720 million.
- What are Austin’s transportation priorities?
Only Mayor Adler’s Smart Corridor plan accomplishes all three of our goals, which are:
- Decrease traffic congestion
- Increase travel options, including transit and bikes
- Complete communities, including sidewalks and crosswalks
Austin traffic problems are myriad, and it will take more than one transportation bond proposition, even a big one, to address them all. For some reason, this has been taken as an argument against Mayor Steve Adler’s “Go Big” Mobility Bond, because it won’t solve all congestion problems, and will require major additional investment to keep the line moving. In fact, the “three-bucket” plan – local neighborhood projects, regional highway projects, and the central “corridor projects” – represents an attempt to spread the work and the benefits, geographically and multimodally. Predictably, the bond has been attacked from one side as too road-heavy and from another as too trail- and sidewalk-heavy, and overall as just too expensive, although more dithering delay in beginning this work will undoubtedly mean more expense. We acknowledge some public doubt that the city departments, in particular Transportation, are sufficiently expert or staffed to take on this major, multi-year project; and with the corridor projects being funded at a small fraction of their total costs, there will be a lot of discretion in how the money is actually spent. Another legitimate complaint is that the city is taking on some highway responsibilities that primarily belong to the state; indeed, if the Legislature were doing its job, either with the gas tax or other funding of highways, the unfunded burden on cities would be lighter. But the burden remains. Finally, although the public process has been relatively truncated this year, each of these projects represents significant public engagement and research on the front end, and Austin badly needs to make substantial investments in shared infrastructure.