I stand firmly against the $720 Million Dollar Mobility Bond because it
- is too costly,
- doesn’t focus on traffic congestion (only 15% to traffic relief),
- will significantly raise taxes.
5 Reasons to Vote No on the $720 million Prop 1 I-Mobility Bond – There is a Much Better Way Forward
- The $720 million is only Phase 1. The full cost will be $1.799 billion per the lead article in the Statesman on September 25, 2016. This will raise the average homeowner’s property taxes $1,200 over the next 5 years assuming Prop 1 passes and the Council then asks us voters to approve a $1.079 billion Phase 2 proposal. Of the combined package, less than 1/18th is for traffic congestion relief because the additional $1.1 billion is solely for corridor beautification that will do nothing for traffic.
- There is a much better traffic relief alternative that can be approved within a year, will cost less than 1/3 of the total Mobility bond package, and 70% will go to traffic congestion relief. The much better alternative $500 million Traffic Relief and Drainage Bond proposal will not raise our taxes, whereas the combined $1.8 billion package will cost the average homeowner $1,200 over 5 years. If the Mayor and Council’s Im-mobility Bond passes this November, we could be delayed years in getting a viable traffic relief bond proposition on the ballot.
- The $46 million allocated for building 3 overpasses at congested intersections on 360 is inadequate because TxDOT has said that the 3 overpasses will cost $110 million. Even if TxDOT matches the $46 million raising the ante to $92 million, the funding will still be $18 million short. I asked how the $18 million shortfall would be bridged, and was told, “We would likely only build only 2 of the overpasses – the ones at Westlake and Spicewood Springs.” The $17 million allocated to improving Spicewood Springs Rd to 4 lanes east of 360 is not a pressing need because traffic rarely backs up there. It’s interesting to note that this improvement is directly in front of the Austin Board of Realtors’ new headquarters and that my opponent is a realtor of long standing who is actively supported by the Austin Board of Realtors.
- Two-thirds of Prop 1 is for corridor beautification and not for traffic congestion relief. Of the total $1.8 billion package, 85% is for corridor beautification. The main beneficiaries will be the property owners and developers because the City is not asking them to foot part of the cost in consideration for their increased property values. The big losers with be the poor who will be forced out by gentrification. In addition many long-standing businesses will be forced to close due to loss of parking and construction disrupting their customer traffic. Some of the corridor beautification projects reduce traffic lanes from 3 to 2, e.g., on Airport Blvd from I-35 to Manor Rd and on Riverside Dr east of I-35. As one constituent of District 10 said, “We can enjoy the beauty while stuck in traffic.”
- It has been bundled into one proposition instead of being presented more appropriately to the voting public in 2 or 3 propositions.
A Much Better Traffic Relief Alternative…
It can be approved within a year, will not raise our taxes, and is less than 1/3 as expensive as the combined $1.8 billion package.
A much better alternative is a $500 million Traffic Relief and Drainage Bond proposal to relieve congestion across the City and to provide needed drainage and sidewalk work in districts that will not share equally in the traffic relief funds. If elected, I will work diligently to get this new and much better Traffic Relief and Drainage Bond proposal on the ballot within a year.
The Traffic Relief and Drainage Bond proposal will include the following:
- $150 million to upgrade 360 to a limited access highway for its entire length. The entire cost to upgrade 360 will be around $300 million, and TxDOT normally matches funds with municipalities. Some may argue that 360 is for District 10 only and that the other City Council members won’t go along, but the 360 upgrade will benefit Districts 6, 7 and 8 as well.
- $30 million of traffic congestion relief by making improvements to Anderson Mill Rd, to the intersection of RM 620 and RW 2222 (4 Points), and to Parmer Lane between SH45 and Brushy Creek. (This is in the current bond proposition.)
- $8 million for improvements to the Old Bee Caves Road Bridge. (This is in the current bond proposition.)
- $12 million for improvements to Spicewood Springs Rd east of 360. The cost as allocated in the current bond proposition is $17 million. Because the property owners along the proposed improvements will benefit significantly, they will be asked to contribute $5 million of the cost bringing the total to $17 million.
- $150 million for a number of traffic congestion relief projects throughout Austin such as a right turn lane onto 2222 for City Park Rd and a traffic light at Mt. Bonnell Rd and 2222.
- $15 million for safer intersections, referred to as “implementation of fatality reduction strategies including projects on the Top Crash Location Intersection Priorities Improvements List”. (This is in the current bond proposition.)
- $35 million for sidewalks and implementation of Safe Routes to Schools, Public and Private. (This is similar to what is in the current bond proposition.)
- $100 million for drainage work needed in 5+ districts due to real estate developments over the years at the head of watersheds and along them.
The Traffic Relief and Drainage Bond proposal will not raise our property taxes, whereas the Mobility Bond proposition will raise them $126/year per home of average value in Jester. The reason for the dramatic difference is as follows. The $720 Mobility Bond is funded using $250 million of our City’s current $500 million of bond capacity which has no incremental effect on our property taxes. The remaining $470 million of funding raises our property taxes $126/year per average Jester home. In contrast, the $500 million Traffic Relief and Drainage Bond proposal will use $500 million of Austin’s current bond capacity at no incremental cost to us taxpayers. The additional use of Austin’s bond capacity has already been anticipated by the need for drainage projects in a future bond referendum in 2017 or 2018. These are now included in this Traffic Relief and Drainage Bond proposal.
Other projects such as corridor beautification, bike trails, and sidewalks would be part of a separate proposition.
Some of us voters may be thinking that Proposition 1 is better than nothing, but if the Mayor and Council’s (im)Mobility Bond passes this November, we could be delayed years in getting a viable traffic relief bond proposition on the ballot, in part because the Council will be focused on trying to fund the remaining $1.1 billion of corridor improvements.
Please Vote NO on the (im)Mobility Bond
Although our Mayor has said, “[The Mobility Bond] is in my mind not a perfect plan, but perfection should never be the enemy of good,” it simply is a bad plan as summed up by the transportation official, “The bond issue is not a rational response to our needs.”
There is a better way forward. It is the Traffic Relief and Drainage Bond proposal that will not raise our taxes at all. I will work diligently with the other members of our City Council to achieve consensus and approve it for the November 2017 ballot, preferably even earlier.
To have hope of traffic gridlock relief and fewer traffic light changes to wait through, please vote NO on the $720 million I-mobility Bond. There is a better alternative – and it is a MUCH better way forward: the no-increase-in-taxes $500 million Traffic Relief and Drainage Bond proposal.
Read about Rob’s plan to cap property tax increases…
See what Rob thinks about the Austin Oaks and The Grove PUDS increased traffic…
Join the Walker movement
See the different ways to volunteer
Donate to get Rob’s message out to more voters…
And for a good laugh about the horrors of Prop 1…