Revised proposal for Austin would boost amount up for vote in November election
Increased spending for road projects on revised city list
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.