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Friday, June 30, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

Council members walk the walk on new bond-funded project

Mayor Steve Adler and two City Council colleagues celebrated the first sidewalk to be funded by 2016 Mobility Bond money by taking a walk on it Thursday morning.

Joined by Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Council Member Greg Casar, Adler and about two dozen city staffers, residents, activists and members of the media strolled down the brand new 1,800-foot pedestrian path on Chesterfield Avenue between West Koenig Lane and North Loop Boulevard.

Before the walk, the elected officials gave short remarks by the Sky-View Baptist Church on West Koenig Lane.

Casar, who arrived to the photo-op on his bicycle, pointed out that the new sidewalk connects his District 4 to Tovo’s District 9. Before it was there, pedestrians in the neighborhood would walk down Chesterfield Avenue in the lone bike lane on the street’s western side.

“Maybe it’s about time that we stop pretending that bike lanes are sidewalks and that our pedestrian infrastructure is sufficient because it’s clearly not,” Casar said.

Tovo said the new sidewalk is an example of how the 2016 bond money will be used to improve the quality of life of residents across the city. “Families with children, others with mobility impairments, those who enjoy biking and walking and getting out of their car and helping our air stay a little cleaner need sidewalks to get to the places that they enjoy and need to go to,” Tovo declared.

“Sometimes government actually works,” Adler told the gathering. “And it does what it says it’s going to do.”

The mayor pledged that the $37.5 million sidewalk portion of the total $720 million bond will help “plant over 30 miles’ worth of sidewalks in this first year alone.”

After the officials’ remarks, Adler – wearing a dark suit – led the informal procession on the short but steamy walk down the new sidewalk to the parking lot of Epoch Coffee on North Loop Boulevard. Inside the air-conditioned coffee shop, Corridor Program Implementation Office Director Mike Trimble told the Austin Monitor that the sidewalk was included both as a high-priority piece of the 2016 Sidewalk Master Plan and part of the implementation plan his team brought to Council in February.

“A big part of the actions that have come to Council for the first couple of months was to get a lot of the contracts into place. So that now that we’re getting these contracts in place to get some of the sidewalk, bike lanes and other projects done, I think you’ll see these start to move forward a little bit faster,” Trimble said.

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