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Friday, January 22, 2021 by Jonathan Lee
Mobility Committee hears update on Proposition B plans
At Thursday’s City Council Mobility Committee meeting, city staffers described what 2021 has in store for the numerous projects funded by Proposition B, the $460 million active mobility bond that voters passed overwhelmingly in November.
Staff members across several city departments will spend most of the year prioritizing and planning the projects, a huge task by itself. Construction will last from 2022 to 2027.
“No doubt this is a huge mountain to climb,” said Anna Martin, assistant director of the Austin Transportation Department. “But we’re excited about the opportunity to deliver this program for the community.”
Projects will include new bikeways, urban trails, pedestrian improvements, safe routes to schools, and large capital projects, including a new bike and pedestrian boardwalk over Lady Bird Lake near Longhorn Dam and a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly Congress Avenue north of Lady Bird Lake.
The city will hire more staff this year to help implement Prop B projects and expedite the remaining projects from the 2016 and 2018 mobility bonds. “We need to accelerate 2016 and 2018,” Martin said, “unstick some of the bottlenecks that have been uncovered over the last four years, and prepare ourselves for those peak delivery years of 2022 through 2027.”
City Council members urged all projects to be completed within six years of the first construction contract. “The six-year time frame is extremely aggressive,” Martin said, “especially when you compound that on top of the 2016 and 2018 work we’re already doing.”
Martin said that the Transportation Department is trying its best to prioritize projects equitably. “Part of our work this year,” she said, “will be to review each of these prioritization frameworks critically, and incorporate an equity review into our Mobility Annual Plan process.”
The bond money will allow the city to complete 70 percent of the All Ages and Abilities Bike Network, address 20 percent of the city’s sidewalk needs and build 30 percent of the city’s highest-priority urban trails.
Capital Metro will receive some funds to “support transit speed, reliability and access to existing local service.” Martin said some of Capital Metro’s Prop B funds could also lead to “an expansion of our micromobility fleet … as well as additional investments in communications and technology.” The bond will help connect a gap in Pleasant Valley Road just north of Ben White Boulevard, making Project Connect’s planned bus rapid transit line along the road more efficient.
Money will also go toward improving substandard streets. Improvements to Johnny Morris Road and Ross Road, which have been high on the city’s to-do list, will be first in line.
The proposition will also fund preliminary engineering for a new Barton Springs Road bridge over Lady Bird Lake with more space for bikes and pedestrians.
Though the first Prop B projects won’t begin construction until next year, the city will still deliver many projects from the 2016 and 2018 mobility bonds in 2021. “We’re not going to miss a beat,” Martin said.
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