AUSTIN (KXAN) — This year was Austin’s deadliest on record when it comes to fatal crashes, with more than 100 deaths. To help assure 2016 doesn’t look the same, each City Council member was asked to submit a list of priority infrastructure projects, due Thursday, to improve transportation in their respective districts.
“It’s just a drop in the bucket of what you can fund when it comes to transportation and mobility infrastructure improvements,” Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo said.
While it may be a drop in the bucket, $1.9 million per district will assure some projects don’t kick the bucket. Earlier this month, council passes a resolution 9-2 to equally, rather than equitably distribute funding from Capital Metro’s Quarter Cent fund to each district.
“East Austin has been neglected for so long, so there’s a lot of needs,” Council Member Sabino Renteria said.
There was concern the decision could open the door to “ward politics,” losing sight of the big picture needs of the city. While Tovo voted in favor of dividing the money by district, she doesn’t want the unique process to become the new norm.
“One of the things that’s important to me is to make sure that we don’t – that this doesn’t become a new path. That with each body of additional funding we don’t decide to distribute it equally among districts because that’s not really the best way to make decisions about taxpayer dollars,” Tovo said.
For the most part, both Tovo and Renteria say they followed staff recommendations, trusting their expertise in determining areas with the greatest need. But the way the Quarter Cent fund was distributed, allowed all council members to balance those recommendations with additional community input.
“I’m focusing a lot of my resources to sidewalks, some trails and bicycling,” Renteria said, telling KXAN his district’s top priority is the creation of a bike path on Riverside that would extend from I-35 to Ben White Boulevard.
“Last year we’ve had 2 deaths on that particular section of Austin there,” Renteria said.
Priority projects for many districts include additional pedestrian hybrid beacons, sidewalks, especially around school zones, and signal light optimization to improve traffic flow.
“Pedestrian hybrid beacons I think are one of the most requested constituent desires,” Tovo said,
Tovo explained the beacons cost $75,000 each. Her district’s project list includes pedestrian hybrid beacons in the areas of Riverside and Alameda, 515 South Congress, South 1st Street.
“One of the great things about the process is that now we have a working list and the staff is aware of projects that the community has identified,” Tovo said, meaning there will a list to review when more funding resources become available.
Mayor Steve Adler will prioritize how to spend the remaining $2.8 million from the Quarter Cent Fund for citywide projects. Council will review recommendations January 28.
QUARTER CENT PROJECT LISTS
Council Member Don Zimmerman
• $1,280,000 Eastbound right turn lane at Anderson Mill Rd and US 183
• $430,000 Pedestrian bridge near Gateway Church (new-not on original staff list)
• $8,400 12B-0038 Cedar Crest Drive from Clear Rock Drive to Cedar Crest Cove; 14A-0047 Cedar Crest Drive from Clear Rock Drive to Spicewood Parkway; and 13B-0019 Clearock Drive from Balcones Club Drive to Cedar Crest Drive (may be using some of CM Zimmerman’s FY15 budget that was transferred to ATD)
• $5,000 Remove split phase at Olson
• $165,000 Light at Anderson Mill Rd @ Swan Dr
• unknown Sidewalks on Hymeadow Drive and Lake Creek Parkway (new-not on original staff list)
Council Member Sheri Gallo
Gallo’s office told KXAN she and staff have met with neighborhood leaders and schools in District 10 to prioritize traffic/transportation concerns that can be improved with the funds. We’re told Gallo has met with school principals and PTA presidents to learn about areas of concern, where changes need to be made to increase safety of students traveling to and from school. Gallo is proposing around $800,000 be used of an adaptive signal program, which improves signal synchronization between traffic lights.
Council Member Ellen Troxclair:
• Signal light optimization throughout the district in order to improve traffic flow at intersections
• Leveraging money with CapMetro to at least double the frequency of service of the 111 bus line
• Address projects in neighborhoods such as sidewalks, pedestrian beacons near schools, etc.
Council Member Sabino Renteria
Intersection Improvements Add SB LT lane in median to remove split phasing at Montopolis Dr and Oltorf St $150,000
Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Montopolis Dr. @ Marigold Terrace – Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon $75,000
Bicycle Facilities Riverside (I35 to Ben White) – Protected Bicycle Lanes $400,000
Sidewalks 2500-2521 E 2nd St. – Sidewalks $48,720
Sidewalks 2600-2717 E 2nd St. – Sidewalks $57,480
Traffic Calming Ledesma Rd. (near Mason Ave) Speed Cushions/Humps N/A
Traffic Calming Ledesma Rd. and Springdale Rd. Intersection – Median Island N/A
Sidewalks 4100-4107 Richland St. – Sidewalks $29,880
Sidewalks 4108-4123 Richland St. – Sidewalks $28,920
Sidewalks 400-415 Normandy St. – Sidewalks $24,000
Sidewalks 500-519 Normandy St. – Sidewalks $47,280
Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon S 1st St. @ Philco Dr. Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon $75,000
Signal St. Elmo Rd. @ James Casey St. – Signal $165,000
Sidewalks 4100-4335 James Casey St. – Sidewalks $37,800
Intersection Improvements Emerald Wood Dr. Intersection – Meadow Creek Dr. and Aberdeen Dr. N/A
Signal S Congress Ave. @ Ramble Ln. – Signal $165,000
Sidewalks 5201-5331 S Congress Ave – Sidewalks $41,040
Sidewalks 5400-5437 S Congress Ave – Sidewalks $54,000
Sidewalks 5500-5535 S Congress Ave – Sidewalks $23,760
Traffic Calming W St. Elmo (Near Garnett St) – Speed Cushions/Humps N/A
Sidewalks 4400-4429 Garnett St. – Sidewalks $73,200
Sidewalks 4400-4429 LaReina Dr. – Sidewalks $78,840
Sidewalks 5300-5436 S IH 35 SVRD SB – Sidewalks $147,960
KXAN has not yet received project information/lists from other council members.