Austin residents can weigh in on proposed $720M mobility bond during Aug. 11 council meeting

Improvements to Loop 360 are included in the $720 million bond proposition the city of Austin is considering for the November election.

Improvements to Loop 360 are included in the $720 million bond proposition the city of Austin is considering for the November election.

Austin City Council plans to have public comment Aug. 11 on the proposed $720 million mobility bond the city is considering for the Nov. 8 election.

At its June 23 meeting, council approved moving forward with pursuing a $720 million bond proposition that would dedicate $101 million for regional road projects, including Loop 360 and Spicewood Springs Road; $482 million for implementing the seven corridor plans; and $137 million for local mobility projects, including funding the sidewalk, bicycle, Vision Zero and urban trails master plans.

Because that vote was taken around 1:30 a.m., a couple of council members expressed interest in setting a time-certain point during the Aug. 11 meeting for public comment and to end discussion.

“I want to make a commitment that we finish deliberation earlier in the evening, such as 7 p.m., so we don’t end up going past midnight,” District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen said.

Council members also discussed Aug. 2 their initial thoughts on how detailed they should set the language in the bond proposition as well as the language that would appear on the ballot.

The proposition language would contain a full description of how the bond funds would be used, and the ballot language would provide a summary of the longer proposition, Assistant City Manager Robert Goode said.

He said staffers recommend the ballot language include roadways that would receive improvements but not list funding for the separate categories of regional, corridor improvement or local mobility projects.

“At this point we think you may be getting the voters a little confused,” Goode said. “That’s a lot of information to have on each category and each project. … We would leave that level of specificity in the proposition.”

District 9 Council Member Kathie Tovo said she has not decided how specific the ballot language should be but raised concerns about being too specific. She said she would not want the city to miss out on federal grants to make improvements on one of the corridors because they are locked into the bond funding.

Tovo said she is leaning toward a more general description on the ballot but adding in suggestions from District 4 Council Member Greg Casar, who said the ballot language should indicate the bond would also be spent on sidewalks and bicycle facilities.

However, several council members, including Kitchen, Delia Garza, Don Zimmerman and Ellen Troxclair, said they would prefer the ballot language to have more specific details, including funding amounts and project locations.

“The majority of people will be reading the ballot language for the first time when they walk in that booth [to vote], and I want it to be as transparent as possible,” Garza said.
By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and later senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels.



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