Re­vised pro­posal for Austin would boost amount up for vote in Novem­ber elec­tion

In­creased spend­ing for road projects on re­vised city list

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Ben Wear bwear@states­man.com; 445-3698

The City of Austin trans­porta­tion bond elec­tion this fall would grow $5 mil­lion to a to­tal of $90 mil­lion un­der a re­vised pro­posal re­leased Fri­day, and more of that money would go to road projects than pre­vi­ously con­tem­plated.

The up­dated pro­posal for a Novem­ber ref­er­en­dum is sched­uled to be re­viewed by a cit­i­zens task force next week, and the Austin City Coun­cil could vote as soon as July 29 to call the elec­tion.

The bond pro­posal now in­cludes $2.3 mil­lion to re­con­fig­ure en­trance and exit ramps at the junc­tion of In­ter­state 35 and East 51st Street. And it in­cludes a $1 mil­lion city con­tri­bu­tion to the Texas Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion’s traf­fic anal­y­sis of I-35, which in time likely would re­sult in fur­ther pro­pos­als to de­crease con­ges­tion on the in­ter­state.

In all, the new pro­posal would have $51.3 mil­lion for road, high­way and in­ter­sec­tion im­prove­ments (al­though some of that money is for de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing only, not con­struc­tion) and $38.7 mil­lion for bi­cy­cle, pedes­trian and tran­sit projects. The ear­lier $84.8 mil­lion bond pro­posal, with $42.6 mil­lion in road and high­way spend­ing, was split al­most evenly be­tween road projects and non­road projects.

The pedes­trian projects would in­clude $14.4 mil­lion of city money and $3 mil­lion of pri­vate con­tri­bu­tions for the pro­posed “board­walk” ex­ten­sion of the hike-and-bike trail east of Congress Av­enue on the south side of Lady Bird Lake. That $17.4 mil­lion to­tal is ac­tu­ally a $1.4 mil­lion in­crease from the $16 mil­lion es­ti­mate re­leased a few weeks ago. But that is likely to be an in­crease on paper only.

As en­vi­sioned ear­lier, the board­walk — a con­crete walk­way sus­pended over the wa­ter for much of 1.1 miles from east of the Austin Amer­i­can-States­man prop­erty to well east of I-35 — pre­sumed a sin­gle con­struc­tion phase. That is likely still the case.

But the new pro­posal, to put the onus on the Trails Foun­da­tion to raise $3 mil­lion it has promised for the project, pre­sumes that it will oc­cur in two sep­a­rate phases.

The sec­ond, $7.9 mil­lion phase would be con­tin­gent on re­ceiv­ing the full $3 mil­lion from the Trails Foun­da­tion. Robert Spil­lar, the city’s trans­porta­tion di­rec­tor, said the ex­tra cost would come from hav­ing to shut down the project af­ter the first phase and then be­gin the sec­ond phase much later.

If the two phases oc­cur one right af­ter the other, Spil­lar said, then the orig­i­nal $16 mil­lion cost es­ti­mate would stand, and the re­main­ing $1.4 mil­lion would be used on other city projects.

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