AUSTIN (KXAN) — In nearly three weeks, Travis County voters will have to decide whether to check yes or no for the cities $720 million mobility bond project. Proposition 1 will pay for several projects in Austin including adding “smart corridors” for traffic improvements on several of the city’s busiest roads, including south and north Lamar Boulevard, Airport Boulevard and Guadalupe Street.
The total price tag for the corridor improvement projects would be more than the bond — at $1.5 billion. To help pay for it, the city would raise property taxes by less than $60 a year for those who own a $250,000 home. The city hopes to secure grants from the state and federal government to cover the rest of the costs.
The bond also features major improvements for the cities bike lanes — $20 million worth.
Lynn Haas has been an avid Austin cyclist for years. “When I first moved here, I would take one mile trips, two mile trips on my bike. Eventually I went back to school at ACC so I started bike commuting to avoid the parking, especially on the Rio Grande campus,” Haas said.
She’s quickly learning, the wheels of change grind a little slower. “I think there are a lot of good things in place but there is work that still needs to be done,” she said. “I live one block away from North Lamar and I can’t go anywhere on North Lamar. It’s a major barrier for me and I would like to be able to use that corridor, right now I don’t feel like it’s appropriate.”
It’s a problem she’s hoping Proposition 1 will fix it’s passed by voters in November. Haas is hoping drivers realize by helping those on two wheels, it won’t hurt those who prefer four.
“In these corridors, they are not taking away lanes from cars. They’re just adding an off road path that anyone can take,” Haas said.
Opponents to the bond say the project is rushed and poorly vetted.
“The idea that it will relieve congestion is based on the premise that many of us will get out of our cars and use another mode. There is no evidence that that ever happens,” said Bill Worsham with the Travis County Taxpayers Union.
While the wheels keep spinning towards election day, both sides urge you to do your homework and visit the projects website.
“This is complete overkill. Sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of these corridors? We are going to lose so many driveways, so many small businesses. So even the amenities that are being touted as some of the benefits could be done at a much lower price,” Worsham said.
A poll released earlier this month from “Move Austin forward” showed most Austinites think the proposed mobility bond is a good idea. More than half of those asked plan to vote for it, about a quarter were against it and about 20 percent were undecided.
“I really would encourage people to go online and look at the corridor studies and look at the cross sections for the roads and what they are proposing to do. There’s been a lot of misinformation out there regarding what we are actually looking at doing,” Haas said.