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Austin Debates Competing Visions for Transportation Investments

The city of Austin's political leadership has proposed a package of competing bond proposals to raise money for large congestion relief measures in the fast-growing city.
June 20, 2016, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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An editorial by Alberta Philips explores some of the rhetoric behind a recent $720 billion bond proposal for the city of Austin, championed by Mayor Steve Adler. The editorial mostly digs into the scope of the bond, proposed to overhaul "key traffic corridors" in and around the city.

When he announced the $720 million bond package at the end of May, according to Philips, Mayor Adler claimed it was "time to 'go big or go home.'" The bond backs up that big talk by providing funding for the so-called Smart Corridor initiative. Philips also identifies a proposal by State Senator Kirk Watson to overhaul Interstate 35 as another example of the big thinking that presents "a remarkable opportunity to do something about their transportation predicament." 

Philips's argument holds off on defining how the city should build bigger to solve Austin's congestion woes—first arguing that competing bond proposals by Austin city councilmembers are "too small to get the job done." One proposal, supported by City Councilmember Ann Kitchen and the city's mobility committee, would raise $300 million. City Councilmember Greg Casar backs another bond proposal that would spend $720 million, but has a "too small geographical reach and vision," according to Philips.

Only at the end of the editorial does Philips lay out the vision of what building bigger should look like, revealing a multi-modal, technology-enabled streetscape.

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Published on Monday, June 20, 2016 in Austin Statesman
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