Here's how city of Austin voters weighed in on $720M bond

Mayor Steve Adler thanks supporters Tuesday night at Lavaca Street Bar in downtown Austin.

Mayor Steve Adler thanks supporters Tuesday night at Lavaca Street Bar in downtown Austin.

Updated 8:45 a.m.

Voters approved Austin's $720 million mobility bond Tuesday, drawing support from throughout the city.

"Austin voters clearly want to take bold steps to invest in infrastructure [that] addresses mobility," said Drew Scheberle, senior vice president of transportation advocacy for the Austin Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. "... We look forward to working with city leaders to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent to reduce congestion in a wise and timely manner."

The bond proposition drew support from 59.1 percent of voters, or 183,942 votes out of a total of 311,225 ballots cast.

Voters throughout the city of Austin cast support for the bond, which aims to provide traffic relief on regional and local roadways. Of the 40.9 percent of voters who opposed the bond, most resided in pockets of precincts in West and Northwest Austin as well as in precincts near the city limits.

Austin mobility bond Precinct results for the city of Austin's mobility bond[/caption]

With passage of Austin's mobility bond likely, opponents remain optimistic about weighing in on its implementation
Updated at 10:10 p.m.

Given the likely passage of Austin’s $720 million mobility bond, opponents aren’t losing hope yet that they could still weigh in on its implementation.

“Even though there may be more questions than asphalt in the plan, I think it shows the people want something done,” said Andy Hogue, communications director for the Travis County Republican Party.

In speaking to Republicans who did support the bond, Hogue said it sounded like many of them thought it was a good compromise and the only option they may get to find some traffic relief.

The latest election results released at 10:01 p.m. still show the bond passing with 59 percent of the vote. Hogue said many opponents were concerned about some aspects of the bond, such as removing traffic lanes for buses. Others were concerned about the city likely applying for federal funding and grants to stimulate Mayor Steve Adler’s smart corridors that would support more bike lanes and transit on corridors.

“It’s like the Trojan horse—you accept it because it’s big and glorious, but you don’t know what’s in it,” Hogue said.

Adler said it will still take citizen input to implement the mobility bond program, and Hogue said the Republican party will still remain involved in making sure elements of the plan, such as bike lanes, are added in appropriate locations.

“I think without Don Zimmerman it’s going to be a lot harder, but at same time it’s a chance to stand up and strike a happy medium,” Hogue said. “Our existing corridors still need to be expanded.”

Mayor Steve Adler: Passage of Austin’s $720M mobility bond likely, ‘Now the work begins’
Updated 8:45 p.m.

Mayor Steve Adler addressed supporters at Lavaca Street Bar on Tuesday night, thanking them for the likely passage of Austin’s mobility bond, “even though we didn’t have a lot of time to get this done.”

“To have a 20-point lead with half the votes counted is going to something that’s nearly impossible to overturn,” he said.

Austin mobility bond Mayor Steve Adler talks to supporters Tuesday night as election results start coming in showing the likely passage of the city's mobility bond.[/caption]

Early votes showed almost 60 percent of early voters support the bond. More than 247,000 voters cast their ballots early in the city’s Proposition 1 election, and 147,954 votes were cast in favor of the bond. About 40 percent of early voters, or 99,356, opposed the bond. Election Day results had not yet been released.

Adler said he wants to make sure residents stay engaged if the bond passages, and an implementation plan is already in the works.

“I would anticipate we’ll be out early doing some of the safe passageways to school for kids, sidewalk work,” he said. “While that construction is happening, we’re going to be having that community conversation about the best way to implement the balance of the funding. We’ve already started having conversations about trying to leverage the dollars with outside funding sources.”

Adler said he told city staffers he would want all the work completed in eight years, a feat that would require “new systems to get that work done.”

“We’re going to do this in a very transparent, open way,” he said. “Staff is going to make regular reports to the community so everybody can track and follow the progress of these projects.”

Adler said residents will be able to help direct the implementation of the bond program.

“This is not something that’s going away into the dark corners and [residents] will awake surprised to see construction already,” he said. “The community is going to be involved to help shape and implement this.”

He said the city has already been talking with Capital Metro and the Texas Department of Transportation on partnering on some projects listed in the bond program, which would include regional projects on TxDOT roadways, including Loop 360 and Lamar Boulevard.

Mayor Steve Adler makes first public comments on $720 million mobility bond results so far
Updated 8:14 p.m.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he is not surprised by the early lead so far in Austin's $720 mobility bond election.

"People want the city to address our challenges," Adler said. "Now the real work begins."

Everyone is needed at the table, Adler said, to provide input to ensure meaningful transportation improvements are made.

Early voting results show more Austinites support city's $720M mobility bond
Updated 7:10 p.m.

Early voting results show a majority of voters, almost 60 percent, are supporting the city of Austin’s $720 million mobility bond.

More than 247,000 voters cast their ballots early in the city’s Proposition 1 election, and 147,954 votes were cast in favor of the bond. About 40 percent of early voters, or 99,356, opposed the bond.

Voters getting creative in showing support for Austin's mobility bond
Updated 4:59 p.m.

Some Austin voters are using a Snapchat filter in showing support for Austin's $720 million mobility bond when they cast ballots at Austin Community College's Highland campus.

Austin's mobility bond supporters, opponents plan election night watch parties
Posted 3:18 p.m.

Supporters and opponents of Austin’s $720 million mobility bond will gather at separate locations throughout Austin to wait for election returns.

Most funding in the bond—$482 million—would go toward implementing parts of the city’s seven completed corridor plans as well as studying a new corridor plan in South Austin. Another $101 million would go toward regional mobility projects, and the remaining $137 million would be spent on local road projects and implementing parts of the city’s sidewalk, bicycle, urban trails, and fatality-reduction plans.

The city of Austin could issue $250 million in bonds without raising the debt service tax rate and would issue the remaining $470 million by raising that tax rate by an estimated 2.25 cents per $100 taxable valuation.

Move Austin Forward, the political action committee that supports the bond, will meet with members of the pro-bond coalition and Mayor Steve Adler at Lavaca Street Bar, 405 Lavaca St., Austin. Supporters tout the congestion relief the plan would provide.

Farther north, members of the Travis County Republican Party will gather at Big Daddy’s Burgers & Bar, 9070 Research Blvd., Ste. 101, Austin, near Burnet Road. The organization has spoken against the bond, which it says is confusing and would result in “narrow roads and unpopular mass transit schemes.”
By Amy Denney
Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and then senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition and covering transportation. She is now managing editor for the nine publications in the Central Texas area.


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