This election, Austin voters will be asked to decide on 18 propositions, including seven bond propositions totaling $385 million. KUT News is taking an in-depth look at all seven of the bond propositions, starting with the largest spending package: Prop 12, funding transportation and mobility projects.
According to the city, the $143.3 million proposal would fund the “improvement, construction and design” of sidewalks, bridges and roads to help ease traffic and congestion. That will likely include updates to Interstate 35, MoPac and North Lamar Boulevard.
The bond would also fund new traffic signals and pedestrian beacons backers says will improve safety, and help pay for a portion of the Violet Crown Trail, a 30-mile hiking and biking path from Zilker Park to Hays County. A full list of potential transportation projects can be found on the city’s website.
Love Austin is a campaign by bond supporters that hopes to educate voters about the city’s overall bond package. At a kick-off party at Nuevo Leon in East Austin, field director Ian Davis said he’s excited about the new trail. “You know I grew up hiking and biking in the greenbelt and now ... I have a young son and I’m just looking forward to taking him on this very new trail," Davis said. "I think it’s going to be an environmental treasure."
But in a fast growing city like Austin, it can be hard to attain progress in shortening the daily commute. Opponents of the proposition say that the city’s previous transportation and mobility bonds, including a $90 million bond passed in 2010, have failed to improve traffic conditions.
“With another $144 million – or however much it’s going to take – we don’t think that they should be trusted with more money until we get better leadership that shows they’re willing to use the money wisely,” said Don Zimmerman, treasurer of the Travis County Taxpayers Union Political Action Committee.
The city does not expect an increase in this year’s property tax rate as a result of the passage of Prop 12, but that assessment hasn’t stopped some from going after the measure. You can read KUT News’ recap of the wrangling over the tax impact of bond spending.