Monday, October 4, 2010

Coalition On Sustainable Transportation (COST) recommends NO Vote on Austin "Mobility" Bond (Prop 1)

Austin media sometimes gives short shrift to opposing views to City Council bond initiatives, so here is a press release I received from the Coalition of Sustainable Transportation:

The Coalition on Sustainable Transportation (COST) joins a growing number of Austin organizations (like RECA - Real Estate Council of Austin, and TAG - Texans for Accountable Government) and civic leaders in opposing the Austin City Council’s proposed “Transportation” bond referendum (Proposition 1) to be placed on the November 2, 2010 election ballot.

“This proposed $90 million dollar bond package has been created with little transparency and lacks integrity. The package is a veiled hodgepodge of projects deceptively mislabeled ‘transportation and mobility’ improvements. The city has provided scant data regarding the costs and transportation benefits of any proposed project,” says COST Executive Director and well known transportation expert Jim Skaggs.

Austin citizens use roadways for 99% of their travel. Contrary to the City’s deceptive presentation, more than one-half of the bond money will be spent on projects which have no impact on roadway mobility and congestion, including the following defined projects:

1. The most expensive project in the package is a $14.4 million boardwalk on the south side of Lady Bird Lake.

2. The second most expensive is $10 million for American Disabilities Act sidewalk improvements.

3. The third most expensive is $8 million labeled as “Arterial Streets” but is primarily bike lanes and sidewalks for the 3rd street Lance Armstrong Bike Boulevard.

In addition, another $12.3 million is allocated to projects for sidewalks, trails and bike lanes making a total of $36.7 million.

More than one-third of the $90 million bond is a “blank check” for the city because specific projects are not identified.

The largest true roadway project involves $4 million in temporary improvements to the highly congested “Y” at Oak Hill. Undefined neighborhood streets are allocated $16.35 million of which $2.7m is for ‘traffic calming’ and ‘quiet zone’ funding – terms that are not well defined. Almost $20 million is allocated for street reconstruction which appears to be 'deferred/neglected maintenance' with little mobility improvement. An additional $2 million is to support Capital Metro's Bus Rapid Transit and Urban Rail which has not even been approved by voters. Clearly Cap Metro should fund this and zero should be spent anticipating Urban Rail.

The city’s selection criteria for bond package projects are decidedly ‘anti-automobile’ and ‘anti-mobility.’ They are biased against projects which should have the highest priority: Those which are cost effective in relieving the most road congestion and improving mobility for the greatest number of people.

Voters should vote NO on this poorly formulated bond proposition and require the city to present a cost-effective package with total transparency and mobility benefits data.

COST strongly recommends a different bond package be allocated based on effective projects to relieve road congestion for the most citizens, and deferred maintenance projects should be included in the city’s general fund.

For questions contact: Don Zimmerman, 512-577-8842 (

The mission of the Coalition on Sustainable Transportation (COST) is to promote sustainable, cost-effective people mobility solutions for the Austin region. COST’s purpose is to seek and provide objective, analytically based and understandable information which allows citizens, elected officials, other community leaders, and transportation officials to assess people mobility alternatives and select those which equitably serve the Austin region’s greater good.

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