I wanted to catch you up on what we’ve been up to during the holidays.
First, some good news from Washington — really
We all know that IH-35 through downtown Austin is the worst road in town, and one of the worst in Texas. For years – decades even – the best advice we could give newcomers is how to get around Austin while avoiding IH-35. And as the years go by and more and more people move here, IH-35 gets more and more congested. All of a sudden, the road ahead looks a little better. Just this week, the President signed a new five-year highway bill that provides $305 billion for highways, transit, freight, Amtrak, and passenger rail programs. Even better, the bill, called the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (“FAST”) Act, increases money available for highways and reserves a bigger portion of that funding for larger cities like Austin. In other words, right when Austin needs it the most, we are eligible for a bigger slice of a bigger pie for our biggest problem – IH-35.
This is particularly gratifying for me. As the Vice Chair for Highways on the U.S. Conference of Mayors Transportation & Communications Committee, I’ve helped make sure Congress knew that Austin needed a long-term source of funding for our federal highways. It has not been easy, but Congress worked together to get this done. This is a battle won, but not the war. Now we need to make sure Austin gets our share – more on that to come.
Guess who has a home?
Remember when I emailed you this video a couple weeks ago? Michael, an Air Force veteran, and Misty had been living in their car for three years after Michael lost a great job managing a bed and breakfast. I’ve got some good news. No, this is great news: On Thursday, they moved into their new home at the Avesta Solano apartment complex. We did something good for one of our heroes and his family.
Want to help? We need RVs, mobile homes, money, apartments… We’re still looking for heroes to help us functionally end veteran homelessness in Austin. Go to the Housing Heroes Austin website or call us at the Mayor’s Office: (512) 978-2100. Great cities do big things, and I want you to share in the feeling of helping to accomplish this big thing. We’ve only got about three weeks left until the deadline at the end of the year. The time to step up is now.
Put on your yarmulke, here comes Chanukah
For the uninitiated, that actually rhymes. Last night, Diane and I were honored to light the candle on the giant menorah in front of City Hall. It was quintessentially Austin – there was live music, hot drinks, latkes, donuts, and chocolate gelt, and everyone was welcome. Austin is a city that draws strength from tolerance and inclusion, and now more than ever we need to celebrate this quality that makes Austin such a magical place.
Hope you and your loved ones are healthy and happy.