City leaders declared 2016: the "Year of Mobility." It’s the latest, in a long line of campaigns, to get Austin out of its traffic gridlock.
Austin is getting bigger and so is its traffic problem. With that in mind Thursday morning, Mayor Steve Adler and members of the city council announced several gridlock busting ideas are about to hit the fast lane.
"We are ready to break ground on many shovel ready projects, in fact so many shovel ready projects we are in danger of running out of shovels,” said Mayor Adler.
There are a total of 109 projects. They include, expanding the city's traffic control center. Adding more smart technology to traffic signals. Redesigning and widening critical intersections. Reinvesting in the proposed Lone Star Commuter Rail that would run between San Antonio and Georgetown. As well as building more sidewalks and pathways for bicyclists.
While the plan may sound familiar what’s new is how project goals this time will be driven. Instead of city hall calling all the shots, neighborhoods now represented by a 10 district elected council will get more input on what is actually done.
"The projects we are talking about for 2016 are only just the beginning, we have much, much more we need to do for our community,” said Council member Ann Kitchen.
The plan does not add more lanes to very critical commuter routes in town which prompted this comment.
"We need road expansion not congestion management, but congestion relief by widening our roads and building new freeways,” said Council member Don Zimmerman.
New lanes are not the only solution they can quickly clog up which is why Cap Metro is trying to attract more commuters to its bus and rail lines. To do that several park and ride lots are being expanded. Cap Metro president, Linda Watson, also wants to add more bus only lanes like those downtown.
The hot lane routes could be a cheaper and faster alternative to building commuter rail network.
"I am working with the City Council and the mobility committee and in a couple of months they will be talking about additional bus priority lanes in Austin and whether those can work and in what areas and so there may be something in the future we can address,” said Watson.
Officials at City Hall are optimistic they're on the right track, but it’s also understood gridlock relief is still years away.