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Austin Voters May Face $85 Million Transportation GO Bond Proposal

DALLAS — Voters in Texas' capital city could decide in November on an $84.8 million general obligation bond package for transportation projects if the Austin City Council adopts the program and schedule proposed by city manager Marc Ott.

The transportation bond proposal would devote $42.6 million to road and street projects, with $42.2 million of improvements to sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and hiking trails.

Proceeds would provide $70.8 million for projects that would be completed or under way within two years, with another $14 million devoted to design and preliminary engineering for projects that could be financed with a bond election in 2012.

Ott said the projects would be spread across the city. Proceeds would be allocated to projects for a wide range of transportation options, he said.

"This bond package represents a balanced approach to improving mobility and connectivity via roads, bicycle paths, trails, sidewalks, and transit infrastructure," Ott said. "It also plants the seeds for regional advances that will help us respond effectively to future growth."

Austin voters approved a $567.4 million GO bond package in November 2006 that included $103.1 million of transportation projects.

The city has $790 million of triple-A-rated outstanding GO debt.

The City Council can amend the proposal before it is officially submitted by the city manager on July 29. The council is expected to vote Aug. 5 on whether to set the bond election for November.

One of the largest projects in the proposal is $16 million for a boardwalk along Lady Bird Lake's south shore, which would complete a hike-and-bike trail along the lake. If the bonds are approved, officials said work on the project could begin as early as January 2011.

The city's obligation for the boardwalk could actually end up being $13 million rather than $16 million. The Austin Trail Foundation said it hopes to raise $3 million for the series of steel bridges, which would allow the city to reallocate $3 million to other projects.

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