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Let’s Really Make This the Year of Mobility

September 19, 2016

Austin has a traffic problem. We have an accessibility problem. We have a connection problem.

Austin is gaining unwanted notoriety across the nation for our mobility crisis, and we cannot solve this giant issue with more highway lanes alone. Without substantial investment and concentrated efforts to address our transportation pain points, Austin risks becoming a ghost town as fast as it became a boom town.

In partnership with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Shoal Creek Conservancy and with the support of 16 other business and community organizations, the Real Estate Council of Austin is backing the Mayor’s $720 million mobility bond proposal.

The proposal includes a multi-pronged approach to solving an array of issues that contribute to our transportation woes. Voters should understand that time stuck in traffic is just one symptom of the overall connectivity problem.  Our mobility crisis also creates revenue impacts to our retail and hospitality industries, not to mention our most treasured cultural institutions and venues. It also contributes to the rising costs of real estate and homeownership, exacerbating our affordability struggles.

We are steadfast in our support of the Mayor’s intention to make 2016 the Year of Mobility, and, according to recent polling, 56 percent of Austin voters agree.

Investing in Austin’s corridors will help enable the realization of the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, adopted by the City Council in 2012. Easing congestion through better connectivity, enhanced mobility and overall road and infrastructure improvements will foster an environment that will enhance and protect Austin’s reputation as a competitive location to live, work and visit.

The composition of the mobility bond will not please all people. Some will argue that too much (or not enough) is being spent on sidewalks and trails, and others will question the utility of the corridor expenditures. Much of our focus has been on improving mobility and congestion in our most congested areas.  The mobility bond package calls for over $100 million to be spent on regional roadway improvements, and $482 million to be spent on corridor improvements that prioritize reduction in congestion, reduce delays at intersections, improve the level of service, and improve effectiveness of transit in the corridors. 

These expenditures, and the overall mobility bond package, is the right and necessary next step in solving Austin’s gridlock problems. We have an opportunity to be a leader in innovative and effective mobility solutions and our city has the opportunity to serve as a benchmark to peer cities looking to solve their own boomtown issues.

We are at a crucial point in Austin’s story; the decisions we make today will determine whether the city of Austin will be seen as a source of solutions or as a cautionary tale for others. That choice depends on the outcome of this critically important bond election.

We are hopeful the voters will stand together with RECA and its community partners and allies and commit to moving forward to solve one of Austin’s most pressing problems. We stand ready to be a part of the solution, to supporting the Mayor and his efforts and to doing the hard work it takes to maintain Austin’s place as one of the best cities to live, work, play, raise a family and spend a lifetime.

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