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.


MOST RECENT

electric grid
ERCOT board developing new emergency response measures, managing financial fallout from winter storm

An emergency meeting of an ERCOT advisory committee made up of independent advisers was convened March 5 after the resignations of several board and of ERCOT CEO Bill Magness. 

Cars wait their turn for a vaccine dose at the Texas Motor Speedway on Feb. 2. The hub was hosted by Denton County Public Health. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Texas doctor discusses first 3 months of vaccine distribution process

Texas is in its 12th week of statewide vaccine distribution, and an expansion of eligibility for vaccination could come later this spring.

Snow covers crops at Johnson's Backyard Garden in Austin. (Courtesy Johnson’s Backyard Garden)
Central Texas farmers are reeling after the winter freeze wiped out their crops. Here is how you can help

"Even though farmers prepared, I think people didn't anticipate how much damage would come," said Leigh'Ann Andrews of Billie and Jean's Farm in Kyle.

For a third consecutive semester, Texas public school districts will not be penalized financially due to declining enrollment and attendance as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, due to an extension of the hold-harmless guarantee, state leaders announced March 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas leaders ensure financial stability for public school districts through spring semester with hold-harmless extension

The guarantee also ensures that Texas school systems can retain their teachers for the 2020-21 school year for whom they originally budgeted.

Winter Storm Uri caused restaurants across Austin to close due to power outages and unsafe road conditions. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Energy GM Jacqueline Sargent resigns from ERCOT's board of directors in wake of winter storms

Sargent's departure follows a trend of resignations from the agency that oversees Texas' power system.

Central Texas Food Bank
Central Texas Food Bank announces distribution sites in March following winter storm

The Central Texas Food Bank is holding food distribution events throughout March for local residents experiencing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lingering effects from damage caused by Winter Storm Uri.

Courtney Manuel (center), I Live Here I Give Here executive director, and and board chair Kathy Smith-Willman (right) stand with Edward B. Burger, St. David's Foundation executive director, during Amplify Austin Day 2020. (Courtesy Trent Lee Photography)
Here's how to support Central Texas nonprofits during ninth annual Amplify Austin Day on March 4-5

The annual 24-hour giving campaign will begin at 6 p.m. on March 4.

People wait in line to receive a vaccine at an Austin Public Health vaccination site. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas offers COVID-19 vaccinations to school, child care workers

Educators, school staff and child care professionals are qualified to receive coronavirus vaccines effective immediately.

In response to Gov. Greg Abbott's March 2 announcement that Texas' statewide mask mandate and COVID-19-related business restrictions will be lifted as of March 10, the Texas Education Agency released updated public health guidance March 3. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Updated Texas Education Agency guidance allows individual school boards to determine mask policies

"Under this updated guidance, a public school system's current practices on masks may continue unchanged. Local school boards have full authority to determine their local mask policy," the release reads.

H-E-B will continue to require employees to wear face masks until further notice. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
H-E-B to require employees, ask customers to be masked despite upcoming expiration of governor's mandate

H-E-B officials announced their employees and vendors would still be required to be masked while on the job, and customers would be encouraged to wear masks while in stores.