Austin plans on tackling sidewalks first with recent mobility bond

Austin street scene (KXAN Photo)
Austin street scene (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Tuesday marks the first time Austin City Council will be briefed on how city staff recommends implementing the $720 million mobility bond that voters passed last November. The ambitious timeline calls for completion in eight years. Now, the city has created a clear timeline for year one that becomes more and more uncertain as the years go on.

City staff has laid out the following items as critical components to deliver on the eight-year timeline:

  • Staffing – Organizational Structure
  • Program Coordination
  • Contracting/Procurement Process
  • Small and Minority Business Resources
  • (SMBR) Contracting Program
  • Utilities
  • Right of Way
  • Approval Process
  • Community Involvement

Talking with city staff, it was clear sidewalk improvements/additions will be among the first projects of the mobility bond implementation the public will see. Locations were pulled from the 2016 Sidewalk Master Plan, which identified about 390 miles of “very high and high priority absent sidewalks within a quarter mile of all identified schools, bus stops, and parks, including and one side of residential streets.” To put it in perspective, the mobility bond will only cover about 40-60 miles of that.

The locations were chosen based on need, rather than dividing funding evenly among the council districts, which is how the Safe Routes to School funding is being divvied up. Districts with the highest sidewalk needs are in east Austin (District 1) and in central Austin (District 9). Sidewalk work could begin as soon as June, with a 4-year implementation outlook tackling approximately 15 miles of sidewalk construction per year. Approximately eight miles of onew projects are projected to get underway in 2017.

The report also indicates proposed sidewalk improvements on Manor Road, East 51st, Georgian, Freidrich and Jollyville Road.

As for regional mobility projects, which represent a $101 million chunk of the mobility bond, the first projects on deck are Spicewood Springs Road and work at Ranch to Market 620 at Ranch to Market 2222.

City council is expected to approve a corridor construction program in 2018. It was earlier this month that council signed off on hiring a consultant to begin next month and help with this process.

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