The Austin City Council took another step last week toward sending voters a $720 million transportation bond proposition in November. The bond, according to the city of Austin, consists of 3 major components, including:

  • Regional mobility: $101 million;
  • Corridor mobility: $482 million; and
  • Local mobility: $137 million, including:
    • $85 million for the Sidewalk Master Plan, Safe Routes to School, and the Urban Trails Master Plan;
    • $20 for the Bicycle Master Plan;
    • $15 million for the Vision Zero Master Plan; and
    • $17 million for Sub-Standard Streets/Capital Renewal.

Interestingly but not surprisingly, there’s a lot of potential funding for transportation projects not involving roadways. Both the corridor and local mobility components advance an “all of the above” approach which, arguably, encompass a wide range of projects that, arguably, have done very little to meaningfully ease congestion in the past.

Still, the city’s decision to forgo investing in additional road capacity is not out of line with its past spending patterns. According to a recently released city memo, only $42.3 million of the $638.4 million of the approved bonds issued from 1998 to 2012 went to improve state highways. That’s just 6.7 percent of the total.

By comparison, pedestrian and bike projects have received about 3 times that amount at $136 million, or 21.3 percent of the total. In fact, signal improvements received almost the same amount of investment as state highways.