Earlier this month, Austin City Council continued to contemplate the possibility of putting a transportation bond on the ballot in 2016. The idea of paying for upgrades and/or expansions toI-35 have already been tossed around, as well as possible pedestrian and bike infrastructure upgrades. At a recent Mobility Committee meeting, city staff pointed out that unmet sidewalk needs in the city amount to an incredible $1 billion.
City staff also pointed out the difficulty of getting any type of bond onto the ballot by November. Typically bond preparation takes anywhere from 15 to 18 months, while city staff assesses the biggest project needs and a citizen commission weighs in on them. However, there are several expedited timelines, including a seven to eight month plan, which at this point, is council’s only option for a November election. The expedited process involves selecting projects for a bond proposal that have already been well-vetted by city staff. It also cuts out the independent citizen bond commission.
As the Austin Monitor reports, Council Member Garza expressed concern about this expedited process, raising questions about the amount of public buy-in and support that could be garnered for such big projects in so short a period of time.
So far, no concrete decisions about whether or not to go forward with a 2016 transportation bond have been made.