Watson, Adler Make Pitches for IH35, Mobility Bond

In a big day for people giving speeches, Senator Kirk Watson and Mayor Steve Adler presented a co-ordinated pair of hefty mobility plans for Austin today.

At a DAA luncheon, Watson announced support for the sunken (“depressed”) IH35 through 15th Street and reiterated support for the current plans for Segment 3, including the Upper Decks.  Funding would come from TxDOT and CAMPO and a potential regional bond.  Watson’s proposal, for the first time, all but eliminated the much-loathed “Modified Existing” elevated option presented by TxDOT but–disappointingly–offered no changes to the TxDOT plans for North Central from May of last year.

In a later speech to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Adler delivered an announcement of his plan for a $720m 2016 Mobility Bond.  The bond would focus on previously-completed corridor studies (such as North and South Lamar, Airport, Burnet, Guadalupe, Riverside and MLK/FM 969) and include improvements to signals, intersections and bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure.   The Mayor also proposed funding for several major exurban arterial intersections, including Parmer, Brodie and 360/620.

While the Mayor called for an additional $20MM in bicycle infrastructure, his announcement comes as a major disappointment to bicycle advocates supporting the full funding of the 2009 Bicycle Master Plan, which is estimated at $150MM.

NCINC2 has advocated for a comprehensive plan for the IH35 to be a part of any mobility bond, both through its December resolution opposing the TxDOT plans for the Upper Decks and in joining organizations like Bike Austin and Reconnect Austin in supporting the Get Austin Moving coalition.  NCINC2 will continue to lobby for such a study and we maintain our opposition to the current TxDOT plans for the Upper Decks.

The announcements today potentially mean good things for Austin’s mobility future, but there is still much work to be done.  NCINC2 looks forward to continued involvement in these mobility discussions.