Will This Be Austin's Downfall?
Austin’s infamous traffic jams could hurt business if something isn’t done soon. (Unless you want to sell your goods on the side of the highway, bring a helmet.) That’s why the City’s November transportation bond proposal has earned a thumbs up from RECA. Here’s three reasons why the commercial real estate org’s leadership thinks you should support proposition 1 regarding Austin's Strategic Mobility Plan.
1) Businesses Lament Traffic
RECA prez Ward Tisdale says this is at the core of RECA’s support of the bond proposal. Some companies’ leadership is expressing regrets at locating in Austin simply because of the traffic. They didn’t know, he says. But, it needs to be fixed to avoid negative implications to future relos. The word is out, though, as Forbes ranked Austin fourth on its list of 10 US cities with the worst gridlock with Austin motorists wasting 41 hours a year sitting in traffic. Here’s Ward with his four children (Will, 20; Laura, 13; Daniel, 23; Katherine, 17) and niece (Caroline, 17) last month at Acadia National Park in Maine during a bike ride.
2) Fix the Roads First
Ward says the City needs to finish the road improvements before rail can even get started. There’s $400M in proposed roadway projects on the table. Ward says the Chamber is on board with the getting specific roads funded and upgraded. There’s MoPac, 360, 620, 2222 and I-35, just to start the list. All of the major roads in Austin have been neglected and there’s a lot of growth in the city, he says.
3) Rail Means Biz Opps
RECA is pro-density, Ward says. (That’s Ward and the RECA volunteers in June helping fill in some rogue trails on the Violet Crown Trail near Barton Creek.) The proposed 9.5-mile rail line will enable dense, mixed-used development to occur along the route. The route along the proposed rail line is ripe for vertical mixed-use development, which is critical to the community. Many of the traffic congestion problems are only going to worsen as the population grows. It’s important to grow in a different way with a bigger focus on density, vertical development, and the transit to support it, he says.