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Adler’s staff clarifies I-35, rail comments

Wednesday, January 6, 2016 by Tyler Whitson

Despite an Austin Business Journal report that ignited a firestorm of speculation Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Steve Adler’s staff says that Adler has not announced plans to propose a bond referendum this year to add managed toll lanes to I-35. In a written statement sent to the Austin Monitor Tuesday evening, Jason Stanford, communications director for Adler’s office, clarified the remarks that Adler made at an Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce luncheon earlier that day. “The Mayor has frequently said that we need to act seriously to improve and address mobility and he would not be surprised if, and he’d like to see, the City move forward in a joint effort with the rest of the Central Texas region to address congestion as well as other mobility projects around the city, and this could well lead to a November bond election. The Mayor also expressed, as he often does, his support for managed lanes to facilitate transit such as are being built on MoPac (Expressway).” Stanford also clarified comments Adler made about the idea of using tax increment financing to fund a light rail system in the city. “He also thinks and has often said that he can’t imagine mobility in Austin in 20 to 30 years, with a projected regional population in excess of 4 million residents, without some kind of rail component. He also expressed the view that, given the last election where rail was defeated, that any future rail project would need to be different and probably need to be smaller in scale, federal funding would constitute a greater part of the project cost, and where the resulting increase in value of the immediately surrounding property would shoulder a greater share of the project cost. He did not suggest that this would be part of any immediate plans, much less a specific bond election, and was only speculating about what the future may hold.”

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