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Poll: 56 percent favor big bond election

Thursday, June 23, 2016 by Jo Clifton

Of the 1,200 Austinites polled about a proposed $720 million transportation bond election, 56 percent said they would vote in favor of such bonds if asked to do so in November. Thirty-six percent indicated that they would vote against such a proposal and 8 percent said they were unsure. Littlefield Consulting conducted the poll of Austin voters last week. According to a memo from pollster Mark Littlefield, the margin of error was less than 3 percent.

Those poll numbers were music to the ears of Mayor Steve Adler, who released the following statement on Wednesday: “It’s great that there is an emerging consensus to go big on Smart Corridors. Turning the old state highways such as Lamar, Airport Boulevard, and Riverside Drive into Smart Corridors will allow us to deal with traffic congestion in a way that gives us more effective transit and safer intersections, bike paths and sidewalks. We’ve done the plans. It’s time to do the work.”

City Council is scheduled to consider whether to adopt the “Go Big” approach at today’s meeting. They will likely hear from members of a coalition of local community and business groups that held a news conference Wednesday to announce their support of the $720 million proposal.

That coalition includes the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Austin Board of Realtors, the Real Estate Council of Austin and leaders of the Get Austin Moving campaign, including the Hill Country Conservancy, Old Austin Neighborhood Association, Bike Austin, Bike Share of Austin, College Houses, Reconnect Austin, the Shoal Creek Conservancy, AustinUP, WalkAustin, the Waller Creek Conservancy and others.

Ted Siff, president of the board of the Shoal Creek Conservancy, said, “Austin’s transportation system is failing, plain and simple. Getting Austinites where they’re going is primarily a matter of investing in our roads, sidewalks, urban trails and bike infrastructure, and that’s exactly what our coalition is advocating for.” Siff told the Austin Monitor that several of the organizations supporting the election have urged their members to attend today’s Council meeting to support the “Go Big” proposal.

In addition to showing support for the $720 million bond election, the poll verified results from a recent Austin Monitor poll showing that a majority of Austinites have a favorable impression of Adler.

When asked whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the mayor, 53 percent of the poll participants said their opinion was favorable, compared to 26 percent who said they had an unfavorable opinion and 21 percent who were unsure.

However, when those polled were asked whether the city of Austin is on the right track or wrong track, Austinites were almost evenly split. Just 42 percent said the city was on the right track and 43 percent said the city was on the wrong track, with 15 percent saying they were not sure.

Those polled were also asked to think about the roads that would be included for improvements and to weigh in on whether it was more important to have improvements on the roads that they use daily or to take care of the roads most in need of improvement throughout the city. Only 34 percent said they wanted improvements on the roads that they personally used, compared to 57 percent who said the money should go wherever it is most needed. Another 9 percent were uncertain.

Asked whether they would prefer the $720 million package proposed by Adler or the $500 million package — first introduced to the public as a $300 million package and expanded this week– proposed by Council Member Ann Kitchen, 52 percent picked the big package and 36 percent chose the smaller package, with 12 percent uncertain.

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