TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Early voting starts next Monday, and in Travis County, voters will be casting their vote on a Roads and Parks Bond worth more than $500 million.
KXAN Traffic Anchor Erica Brennes sat down with County Commissioner Ann Howard to learn more about what the money will fund if it passes.
Erica: How in Travis County can we make sure that people understand what they’re going to see on the ballot starting next week? If you can believe it when it comes to roads and parks bonds in Travis County?
Howard: We’re referring to our bond package as the Travis two-step. Prop A is for $233 million for roads and bike paths and sidewalks. Prop B is for $276 million and change for Parkland acquisition and park amenities like ball fields. The Travis County bond package for roads and parks is significant right now, because of the growth and the congestion, the safety issues. If we have an opportunity, the voters have an opportunity to help us protect more green space. Our strategy will be to acquire Parkland around water sources. And so it’s a double bonus, we get to add Parkland for the public. But we also continue to protect creeks and streams that feed into the Colorado River, which is our source of drinking water. So we’ve done a good job in the past at, you know, investing the voter’s bond money, and we want to continue doing that.
Erica: Let’s talk about the roads bond portion of Prop A, why is the need so great for road improvements in Travis County?
Howard: Roads in Travis County need help. We’re focused on safety and capacity. You know, obviously, there’s lots of congestion, but there’s also lots of accidents. And so we’re focused on Proposition A for the Travis County roads and sidewalks on safety and capacity. Many of the roads are in eastern Travis County, Blake Manor Road, South Pleasant Valley arterial, and a route lane. But also in western Travis County, we’re adding capacity to Creek Road. Or we plan to end by adding center turn lanes and right turn lanes to keep traffic flowing and increase safety.
Erica: If you spend a lot of your time in downtown Austin, you don’t realize what the rest of the county might actually look like when it comes to roads.
Howard: We had a veteran speak out at one of our public meetings about the bonds. She lives in western Travis County, you know, my precinct. She said that the road that she lives on has worse infrastructure than in third-world countries where she has served the USA you know, she has been deployed to three countries that had better infrastructure than Travis County. There’s a portion of the bond initiative that looks to rebuild Pyramid Drive, and O’Reilly, which are off of 620. They connect an elementary school and a middle school, and families can’t use their roads much of the year, they have to leave the neighborhood go out on 620, and come back into the neighborhood to, you know, to get kids to school. And we just got to fix these things.
Erica: If Prop A and B pass, taxes will go up a little bit so talk to me a little bit about it.
Howard: The total package, the Travis County two-step is $509 million. And to the median home price in Travis County, that would be an increase of $3.82 a month. And you know, the tax rate goes down. Still, there’s no increase to the tax rate. But because our home values have gone up, that’s why we would see this $3.82 increase on our bill.
The list of proposed projects and other information about the bond can be found here.