‘Traffic crisis’ addressed in mayor’s State of the City speech

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell (Mark Batchelder/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell delivered his final State of the City address Tuesday in front of a sold-out crowd.

The mayor’s speech focused largely on Austin’s economy and the large number of companies that have moved to the area.

“The good news is that Austin, Texas, today is a great place to get, or create a good job,” he said. Leffingwell said 8,000 quality jobs have been created through what he called “the strategic and judicious use of economic incentives,” during his tenure.

But he says there’s one thing that could put a damper on that growth moving forward.

“Our traffic crisis, and I did say crisis, in Austin…has reached a point where it threatens to undermine what we accomplish and hope to accomplish.” He said the worsening congestion is more than an “annoyance,” calling the issue “dangerous.”

Austin has seen nearly 80 traffic fatalities in each of the last two years. Slower response times for public safety responders have also been noted, according to the mayor.

Leffingwell says building new roads won’t solve that problem alone and says the city needs to focus on rail.

Last week, Project Connect outlined an urban rail plan that would run from East Riverside through downtown and up to the Austin Community College Highland Campus.

Leffingwell was first elected to the Austin City Council in 2005 and won re-election in 2008.  He was elected Mayor in 2009 and subsequently re-elected to a second term on May 12, 2012.  Term limits prevent him from seeking another term.  His term will conclude at the end of 2014.

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