Austin, Texas approves their revolutionary $8 billion renewal program. It will undo car-centric planning and remake city for humans

On March 4, 2021 in Texas, the Austin City Council approved the release of funds from the 2020 Active Transportation and Safety Bond, the enlightened, revolutionary initiative which Austin voters approved last November (by a 2:1 margin) as Proposition B.

This revitalizing effort will undo many previous planning mistakes, revitalizing the city by reconnecting it in way that prioritizes humans over automobiles. It’s the sort of transformative work that virtually every city in the U.S. needs to undertake.

Austin’s Capital Metro train.

The action by Council allows Austin Transportation and Austin Public Works to hire the initial staff necessary to begin work on the $460 million in local mobility projects across the City. While significant, today’s action marks the next step in a multi-year process to deliver these projects to the public.

Over the past three election cycles, Austin voters have said loud and clear that transportation safety and mobility improvements are a major priority for them,” said Gina Fiandaca, Assistant City Manager over Mobility.

We know the importance of bringing these enhancements to fruition as quickly as possible, in partnership with our community. Throughout the next six years, we will ensure projects are designed to meet current and future mobility needs, and they are delivered in an equitable manner across the City,” she added.

Projects funded by this proposition include:

  • $102 million: Major Capital Improvements
  • $80 million: Sidewalks
  • $80 million: Urban Trails
  • $65 million: Safety/Vision Zero
  • $53 million: Substandard Streets
  • $40 million: Bikeways
  • $20 million: Safe Routes to School
  • $19 million: Local Transit Enhancement
  • $1 million: Neighborhood Partnering Program

These projects are in addition to the $160 million in funds approved in November 2018 and $720 million voters approved in November 2016.

All three rounds of funding work hand-in-hand to ensure seamless connectivity improvements from Austin’s busiest roads to neighborhood streets and points in-between. Outlined by the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, that includes reducing dependence on vehicle trips, so only half are made alone by car by 2040.

Project Connect light rail line.
Image courtesy of Capital Metro.

Council’s action allows Austin Transportation and Austin Public Works to move full speed ahead, so engineers and planners can begin designing the projects included in the 2020 bond,” said Robert Spillar, Director of Austin Transportation.

That planning is critical to getting the projects to a point where they can break ground. Community engagement will be a critical focus of Austin Transportation, so the community is aware of the work ahead and can help shape their community’s improvements,” he added.

Austin Public Works Director Richard Mendoza said his department is standing ready to ensure all projects are completed within the six-year timeline promised to voters.

It’s hard to miss the projects underway now across the City from the last three rounds of voter-approved mobility bonds,” Mendoza said.

We are excited about building on this momentum and are ready to continue the collaborative effort with our contractors, community partners and stakeholders to deliver these agility enhancements to our residents,” he concluded.

All work related to the 2020 Active Transportation and Safety Bond is anticipated to be completed by 2027. Council approved Items 60-62 today related to bond program staffing. Once hired, City staff will begin engaging the community and continue refining prioritization for the bond programs. 2020 Active Transportation and Safety Bond construction is anticipated to begin in late 2021/early 2022.

Photo of downtown Austin by justraveling from Pixabay.

Watch 3-minute video overview of mobility projects.

Learn more about the mobility projects.

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