AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city of Austin hopes to start construction that will improve conditions on nine major roads by 2020.
The $482 million to fund the mobility project will come from the $720 million bond Austin voters said yes to back in 2016. In March, planners with the Corridor Construction Program will seek approval from the Austin City Council to approve the funds to design and construct the projects.
“Implementing the 2016 Mobility Bond will cut traffic delays by 25% and collisions by 15% on the streets we most use all over the city. The Smart Corridor Plan is beginning to look like a Genius Corridor Plan,” said Mayor Steve Adler in a statement.
The plan will pay for the following:
- 30 miles of pavement rehabilitation
- 120 traffic signal upgrades
- 30 intersection improvements
- Transit signal priority and better connections to transit
- 75 miles of ADA-compliant sidewalks or shared-use paths, creating continuous pedestrian facilities along the entire length of each corridor
- 40 miles of bicycle lanes to create continuous bicycle facilities along the entire length of each corridor
- As many as 40 new mid-block signals for pedestrian crossings as well as other improvements
The corridors will be:
- North Lamar Boulevard from US 183 to Howard Lane
- Burnet Road from Koenig Lane to MoPac Expressway
- Airport Boulevard from North Lamar Boulevard to US 183
- East MLK Jr. Boulevard/FM 969 from US 183 to Decker Lane
- South Lamar Boulevard from Riverside Drive to Ben White Boulevard/US 290 West
- East Riverside Drive from I-35 to SH 71
- Guadalupe Street from MLK Jr. Boulevard to West 29th Street
- William Cannon Drive from Southwest Parkway to McKinney Falls Parkway
- Slaughter Lane from FM 1826 to Vertex Boulevard
Taking a closer look at the Riverside Corridor
The list of projects along East Riverside Drive is lengthy: new technology for 14 traffic lights, turn lanes at four intersections, three miles of pavement repair, four miles of protected bike lanes, more than four miles of sidewalk repair and widening the bridge at Country Club Creek.
Jamie Bennett lives off Riverside Drive and grades traffic there as a C+.
“It serves it’s purpose but can do a lot more,” Bennett said.
He says the crunch comes when cars reach Pleasant Valley.
“I consider crossing Pleasant Valley to be a death trap and trapped there easily 20 or 30 minutes,” Bennett said.
It’s an intersection to get special attention from the city corridor planners.
“Opportunities to get some reconfiguration of the intersection to just get better movement through the corridor,” said director of the program Mike Trimble, pointing to large concept designs of the project.
Trimble says when the projects are complete, drivers will see a 25% decrease in vehicles and a 15% drop in accidents. He told KXAN the 2016 bond projects will get done faster if they can secure state and federal grants.
“Council gave us a goal of eight year implementation time frame, and we want to do our best to find strategies to get these improvement on the ground quickly,” Trimble said.
Bennett doesn’t look forward to all of the construction noise, but he’s on board with larger streets and more lights.
“It’s safe to say that this east area of Austin is underdeveloped,, and a lot more people will be coming this way over the next five-ten years,” Bennett said.
Looking back to the 2016 election, the city has never planned on picking up the $1.4 billion tab for all of the projects by themselves. So they’ll be spending the next two years trying to get the state and D.C. to give them money to get these projects done faster. So far, the city has applied for $30 million in grant funding.
Trimble says the multi-year long projects are normal.
“For a program of this scale and for even projects of this scale, I think that’s pretty typical. In fact, we’re working on a very accelerated time frame, and we’ve been working that way pretty much from the get go,” Trimble said.