Mayor urges support for Smart Corridor Plan

Rush hour in Austin can be nightmarish. Mayor Steve Adler says a $720 million dollar road improvement project is the answer. Friday, he gathered his supporters to in turn ask for your vote this fall.

On Friday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler appealed to voters to back his smart corridor plan.

"This is a community that is ready for us to do something real about congestion,” said Adler.

It's a $720 million dollar road improvement project with target areas of North and South Lamar, Airport Boulevard, Riverside, Guadalupe among other highly traveled roads.

He blames the high cost on neglect to address the issue in years past. "We have not been spending what we need to be spending over time to avoid being put in the situation we're in now,” said Adler.

Adler's plan features the installation of smart traffic lights that can be adjusted depending on traffic flow, mass transit lanes, bike lanes and sidewalk improvements. The city council approved the measure in June.

Next week they will tackle official bond language.

Adler says momentum is growing in his favor. To further prove that, he surrounded himself with supporters including the chamber of commerce. "This is a big deal. It is a big number, but it is a big problem that we're trying to solve and the mayor can count on the business community being behind him on this initiative,” said Tony Budet, Austin Chamber of Commerce chairman.

"I really appreciate having other options than just driving a vehicle. I think it puts our city in a better place to be more active and not be so sedentary in a vehicle,” said cyclist  Angela Hooben.

Not all drivers are convinced adding mass transit is a better option than more lanes. "We can't afford to have bicycles and buses and things going slow. That's not going to solve the problem,” said taxi driver Zak Syouri.

The final decision on the matter will be sorted out on the ballot this fall.

The mayor's office says the cost to taxpayers for this plan is less than $5 a month for the average home which is $250-thousand dollars. The project is set to start next year and is expected to be complete in 2025.

Adler says $720 million may seem like a lot of money, but the current improvement project going on right now on U.S. 183 costs $780 million.