Frequently Asked Questions
Not at all! That kind of work isn’t in this package. The Smart Corridor plan calls for maximizing our right of way and using our roadways more efficiently, so that means moving bicycles out of the roadway on to separate cycle tracks. We can do this without removing travel lanes, and it helps improve traffic flow and safety.
No way! The corridor plan clearly states that we don’t have enough capacity to do that.
Prop. 1 is a $720 million bond proposition centered around traffic congestion relief by improving nine of the city’s major corridors. The Smart Corridor Plan is divided into three major categories: The Corridors ($482 million), Regional Mobility ($101 million), and Local Mobility & Active Transportation ($137 million).
The Smart Corridor portion covers nine major thoroughfares: North Lamar, South Lamar, Burnet, Riverside, Airport, East MLK/FM969, Guadalupe, Slaughter, and William Cannon. Community-driven plans have already been completed for six. Guadalupe is currently being studied and Slaughter/William Cannon has yet to begin. Also included is funding for additional corridor plans.
The Regional Mobility section contains traffic congestion improvements to intersections and major roadways such as Loop 360, Spicewood Springs Road, Parmer Lane, Anderson Mill Road, 620 & 2222, and Old Bee Caves Road.
The Local Mobility & Active Transportation section includes $11 million for planning, design, engineering, and construction of local road repairs, as well as $37.5 million for sidewalk improvements, $27.5 million for Safe Routes to Schools, $26 million for urban trails, $20 million for bicycle infrastructure, and $15 million for funding safety-related intersection improvements.
Smart Corridors will improve traffic congestion, vehicle flow, and safety through:
- Smart signals that automatically adjust to traffic conditions
- Medians and turning bays to replace center-running turn lanes
- Consolidated driveways to decrease traffic disruptions
- Bus pullouts with benches and shelters
- Transit queue jumps for more reliable bus service
- Dedicated lanes for rapid bus on some corridors
- Protected cycle tracks and sidewalks separate from roadways
- Modern drainage infrastructure and relocated utility lines
There are several reasons. We have woefully underfunded our transportation needs as we continue to rapidly grow as a city and region. Over the next 10-30 years we have $9.5 Billion in identified mobility needs, including up to $2.3B in corridor needs. A $720M bond would make real progress and experts who have studied Austin say they are the place where we should start:
“Add capacity in critical corridors” -2015 Urban Mobility Score Card, Texas A&M Transportation Institute
“Implement corridor plans with a focus on walkability” –Jeffrey Tumlin report
“Continue working on demonstration corridors (Lamar Boulevard, Burnet Road, Riverside Drive, Airport Boulevard, and East MLK Boulevard/FM 969) to plan and build complete street improvements. These include separated bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and improved transit infrastructure with more user friendly bus shelters.” –Imagine Austin
Here are some representative examples of what traffic engineers say would happen if we implement the Smart Corridor plan:
- South Lamar: Turning South Lamar into a Smart Corridor would have a profound effect on traffic congestion. If we make the long-term improvements included in the Smart Corridor plan, wait times at intersections during morning rush hour on South Lamar would improve 61%. If we do nothing, wait times at intersections in the mornings will increase 216%.
- In the evening rush hour, wait times at intersections will decrease 51% if we do the long-term projects. If we do nothing, evening rush hour delays will increase 113%.
- North Lamar: If we turn North Lamar Boulevard into a Smart Corridor, morning delays at intersections would decrease 48%, and evening delays at intersections would decrease 49%. Comparative data is not yet available.
- Burnet Road: If we do the long-term work on Burnet Road, morning delays at intersections would decrease 11% and afternoon rush hour delays would go down 27%. Comparative data is not yet available.
- Airport Boulevard: If we do the long-term projects in the Smart Corridor plan, delays at intersections during your morning commute would decrease 10%; if we do nothing, delays will increase 40%. In evening rush hour, wait times at intersections would decrease 20%; if we do nothing, wait times at those same intersections will increase 40%.
Turning our old state highways into Smart Corridors requires making simple, specific improvements that will reduce traffic congestion, help transit, and provide increased safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.
The first change is that we would install smart traffic lights that can be timed remotely at any time to adjust for weather, accidents, big events letting out, and traffic congestion. Right now, the way we time the lights is to send out a technician every four years to do it by hand.
Access management (dedicated turning lanes, driveway consolidation, turning bays, and raised medians) would also increase traffic flow. Installing bus pullouts and queue jumps would mean both that you wouldn’t get stuck behind stopped buses and that riding the bus would be more attractive. And by building safe sidewalks and protected bike paths, active transportation would be a safer choice.
It’s important to know that the way we measure the effectiveness of roadways such as these old state highways is to measure delays at intersections. When we talk about traffic congestion on these roads, we talk about delays at intersections. If the intersections work better (as each of the changes described above would do), that means your wait at those intersections is shorter.
Last year was the most dangerous year on Austin Roads in regard to fatalities. Several children have died walking and biking. This bonds provides funding to make improvements to the ten most dangerous intersections that have had traffic fatalities. It also includes funding for sidewalks for the Safe Routes to School program in all 10 Council Districts.
Yes, indeed. Those roads are all being addressed through various other projects not included in this bond package. CTRMA is completing the work on North Mopac and will potentially begin work on South Mopac soon. CTRMA is also handling long-awaited improvements to 183 and the Oak Hill Parkway project. TxDOT has begun significant work on IH-35 and has signaled that more major investments are on the way. The roads in the Smart Corridor plan are the “local” roads that everyone drives on and which handle more than 150,000 automobiles a day. In many cases, there haven’t been significant improvements made to these roads in decades.
The City of Austin will be charged with executing the projects should the bond proposition pass. The City Council is working on a timeline with City Staff to ensure bond money is spent within 6-8 years of bond passage. Many of the projects will be completed in consultation with our regional partners: TxDOT, CapMetro, CAMPO, CTRMA, and Travis County.
Prop. 1 will costs less than $5 per month for the owner of a median-priced home (2015: $264,000) in Austin.
All 10 Council Districts are slated for improvements. A majority of Austinites live within 1.5 miles of the Smart Corridors. All modes of transportation will benefit.
95% of the road-related bond projects are geared toward efficiency and doing more with the space that we have on our roads. There are no lane removals to add bike lanes. There is a strong emphasis on added capacity through efficiency measures in all of the corridor improvements. Lanes will be added along the FM969 corridor east of 183.
Within 6 to 8 years. A small amount of the bond money will be used to accelerate the usual process and to increase the capacity of the city to complete the projects in a timely fashion.
The election is Tuesday November 8, 2016. Polls will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Early voting will take place October 24th – November 4th.