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Austin’s biggest mobility bond ever cruises to win

We’ll build this city on big transpo

Proposition 1, the $720 million transportation bond package proposed by Mayor Steve Adler and put forth by the City Council, won big in Tuesday night’s elections, garnering 59.13 percent of the vote.

In a story reported on the KUT website Wednesday, the Austin Monitor’s Caleb Pritchard explained that the bond plan focuses spending on three areas, with $101 million for suburban highway and road projects, $482 million for investments along major, as-yet-unidentified corridors, and $137 million for local streets, pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure, and safety programs.

Pritchard noted that the passage of the largest bond proposal Austin has ever approved was a major turnaround for Adler, who declared a local Year of Mobility before suffering major hits from the departure of Uber and Lyft last spring and the loss of a federal Smart City Challenge this summer.

Opponents of the bond proposal, which Pritchard noted received strong and early support from a coalition of political and business groups as well as political action committee Move Austin Forward, held that the plan was less about easing transportation woes and more about driving development—in the forms of both sprawl and density, depending on which opponents you talked to and whether you were talking about suburban highways or city corridors.

According to the Monitor/KUT story, supporters were able to craft a proposal that appealed to a wide variety transportation stakeholders, as well characterize it as the opportunity “to do ‘something’ rather than ‘nothing.’”

The Capital Planning Office will now be tasked with creating an implementation plan, identifying and designing specific projects for ultimate approval by the City Council, Pritchard reported, adding that the office might hire more staff to fulfill the mandate and keep up with its routine duties. He noted that plans for some of the corridors under consideration—including Airport Boulevard, Burnet Road, far North Lamar Boulevard, South Lamar Boulevard, East Riverside Drive; FM 969, the Drag (the section of Guadalupe Street that runs along UT’s western border), William Cannon Drive, and Slaughter Lane—will be affected by an August council resolution that calls for “congestion relief, reduced delay at intersections, improved transit operations and the protection of affordable housing and existing businesses.”

Mobility Bond Rolls to a Big Victory [Austin Monitor via KUT]