5 things to know about Austin’s plan to roll out the mobility bond

The city of Austin will begin implementing the $720 million mobility bond in 2017, including adding more safe routes to school

The city of Austin will begin implementing the $720 million mobility bond in 2017, including adding more safe routes to school

Nearly three months after Austin voters approved the $720 million mobility bond, city staffers aim to start construction as early as this summer on the first projects.

The bond allocates funding to three types of transportation projects: $101 million for regional projects; $482 million for corridor projects; and $137 million for local projects, including safe routes to school, sidewalks, urban trails, bikeways, fatality-reduction strategies and substandard streets.

1. Construction could begin as early as this summer.

Mayor Steve Adler already targeted creating safer routes to school as the first priority for funding from the bond. Richard Mendoza, director of the Austin Public Works Department, said city staffers will be meeting with schools and council members to package the first round of funding, $4 million, for safe routes to school.

“We believe this is the highest funded safe routes to school program in the nation, and we are setting the stage for this,” Mendoza said.

2. Council will hire a corridor consultant to oversee implementation of the bond.

Staffers will bring a recommendation for hiring a consultant to the Feb. 9 Austin City Council meeting. The consultant ideally would begin working in March to help create a corridor construction program based on criteria council previously outlined, including reducing congestion, improving streets, reducing delays at intersections and improving connectivity and transit operations.

Mike Trimble, director of the Corridor Program Implementation Office, said the consultant will likely complete the plan and bring it back to council in February 2018.

3. Ensuring businesses, neighborhoods aren’t negatively affected is a key factor.

Trimble said the city will have dedicated resources to update local businesses and residents on projects and construction.

“You don’t want to negatively impact businesses or traffic at the same time across these corridors, so we’re going to look at how we sequence [construction], coordinating with utilities,” Trimble said.

4. The public still has time to weigh in on prioritizing projects.

Public input will be used to rank projects in the seven completed corridor plans as well as in the process of creating an eighth corridor plan in South Austin. Engineering studies will begin in February on Slaughter Lane and William Cannon Drive, and Trimble said the city will have public engagement opportunities in April.

“There will be a lot of opportunities for public engagement [and] public input as we go forward in the implementation phases of the mobility program,” he said.

Because the mobility bond will not fully fund the corridor plans, Trimble said staffers will also use metrics to determine the best way to achieve council’s proprieties for the bond.

District 5 Council Member Ann Kitchen said council will have oversight of the implementation plan and will need constant updates from staffers.

“It’s really all about how to set the priorities, because we can’t do it all at once and it’s also going to be challenging to do it in eight years,” she said. “That’s a key approval point. What’s going to be important is to really understand those metrics because the criteria is really not black and white.”

5. City staffers will have more information at the Feb. 28 council meeting.

Trimble said staffers will discuss the prioritization process for implementing the bond in the next eight years as well as present a clearer idea of what projects would be funded in year 1.

For more information visit www.austintexas.gov/2016bond.
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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