Last year, there were 102 traffic deaths in Austin, which is the most in the city’s history. In response, a new option was put on the voter ballot for a $720 million bond that aims to decrease that number by funding road improvement projects, such as installing more bike lanes, urban trails and sidewalks. Additionally, the bond is anticipated to help reduce traffic congestion, which any Austinite will tell you is the worst part about Austin.
However, some safety advocates wonder whether these road improvements will cause more harm than good.
What is Austin’s $720 Million Bond Paying For?
Some voters are wondering how this huge sum of money will create safer conditions for Austin roads. According to the Move Austin Forward Campaign Manager, most of the money will go to the following:
- $15 million will fund changes for 28 of what are considered Austin’s most dangerous intersections, which includes Martin Luther King Boulevard and Airport Boulevard as well as Cesar Chaves Street and North I-35.
- $37.5 million will go to Austin’s Sidewalk Master Plan
- $15 million will go towards fatality reduction strategies
- $27.5 million will go towards Safe Routes to School
- Building raised medians in place of turning lanes
- $428 million is set aside for corridor plans that will improve on eight of Austin’s most populated intersections
Additionally, the City Council is seeking to reduce the width of some lanes to squeeze in some new bike lanes. More pedestrian hybrid beacons are also expected to be installed across Austin.
What is the Downside to the Mobility Bond?
There are many advocates against the bond, saying creating a median and removing center lanes will restrict car mobility and divert traffic away from small businesses. Other critics say the “smart corridors” are simply glorified intersection makeovers that do not solve Austin’s traffic problem. Others insist the bond offers more than it can feasibly deliver. The $428 set aside for corridor plans are estimated to cost more than $1.56 billion.
Moreover, is taking away lanes or decreasing the size of lanes to install bike or bus lanes going to solve the problem of traffic deaths? Taking away lanes for vehicles seems to be counterproductive in terms of decreasing the amount of traffic congestion and the resulting traffic deaths. Will you be voting for the $720 million bond or against it? Let us know in the comments below. Or let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page!