Austinites voted overwhelmingly to approve two transportation related propositions on Election Day. But what are Propositions A and B, and what does it mean for the future of Austin and our work here at Civilitude?
Proposition A includes a permanent increase in the city’s property tax rate to partially fund a major overhaul to Austin’s mass transit system, with the initial investment estimated to cost $7.1 billion. The price tag for Project Connect is steep, but the initial investment will provide Austin with the beginnings of a comprehensive transit system that will allow for increased accessible mobility options for all.
The light rail component of the plan has arguably garnered the most attention, with the Orange Line and Blue Line offering connections to major destinations in the city, including the North Lamar Transit Center, UT Austin, downtown, and the airport. However, Project Connect includes an array of transit improvements, including adopting an all-electric bus fleet, expanding the Red Line, adding a new commuter rail line, increasing the number of bus rapid transit lines, adding neighborhood circulators, constructing a downtown transit tunnel to operate rail outside of downtown right of way, and more. Another exciting component is the $300 million dedicated to anti-displacement efforts to ensure affordable housing is protected with these big changes.
Proposition B hasn’t gotten the same publicity as Proposition A, but these two are a pretty important pair. Proposition B consists of a $460 million transportation bond focused entirely on providing pedestrian and bicyclist improvements within the city, with millions of dollars designated for sidewalks, urban trails, and bikeways. This will also include funding for intersection reconstruction, Safe Routes to School, substandard streets projects included in the 2016 Mobility Bond, and more.
Clearly, there’s a LOT of work to be done in making this work come to life, especially for us planners and civil engineers. Civilitude is hoping to get in on the action from a civil engineering standpoint (it’s our bread and butter) and continue to advocate for affordable and mixed-income housing developments near future transit lines. Also, sidewalk rehabilitation is a major portion of our work right now, so we’re expecting this work to pick up pretty quickly with over 78 miles of sidewalks proposed under Proposition B!
Regardless of how we’re involved, there are a lot of big changes coming to Austin. We’re excited to contribute to fight climate change and create livable, accessible, and affordable communities for all Austinites.
This post was written by Aisling O’Reilly, a native Austinite and Urban Planner at Civilitude.