AUSTIN (KXAN) – Voters in Austin defeated the transportation bond that would have set the stage for a billion-dollar light rail project and improvements to local roads.
If passed, 9.5 miles of urban rail would have been built from Austin Community College’s Highland campus to Grove Boulevard off East Riverside Drive. The measure also contained $400 million for road improvements.
Development of the plan took years, and now those who spent countless hours on the design say it could be many more years until we see another transit plan like this on the ballot. Mayor Lee Leffingwell believes one of the reasons it didn’t pass was because voters are sick of bond election after bond election.
“I sympathize with that prospective, but I think in this instance it was probably the most important investment in Austin’s future we could have made,” said Leffingwell. “So naturally I’m disappointed it didn’t happen.”
Opponents of the proposition argued that the rail project was too expensive would not have taken enough cars off the road to reduce congestion in Austin.
“Tonight’s results are gratifying, but the work remains,” Our Rail, a group opposed to the plan said in a statement, “With this vote, Austin has rejected a bad urban rail plan. It was the wrong route and it was formed by values that were not shared by our community. What we do share with those who supported this measure is a resolve in moving forward with true mobility solutions that make transit a ubiquitous part of life in our growing city.”
Now, the incoming Austin City Council will be faced with the task of coming up with new ideas to alleviate congestion and to move Austinites around town.