CASE Event Recap
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CASE 2014 Fall Breakfast
Guest Speakers Mike Heiligenstein, Executive Director, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority;
Rob Spillar, Director of Transportation, City of Austin; and
Kyle Keahey, Project Lead for Project Connect.

Mike Heiligenstein, Executive Director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, updated CASE members on the latest with the Regional Mobility plan, detailing not only the facilities in operation, 183A and the Manor Expressway, but he also provided updates on the CTRMA facilities under construction. Central Texas Residents are looking at a ton of new road improvements, some of the first we will see completed are the North of Lady Bird Lake managed toll lane additions and the Maha Loop, south of Austin near the SH 130 toll road.

CASE members also received an update on the $2 billion projects under active development, Mopac South of the lake, managed toll lanes, Bergstrom Expressway, Oak HIll Parkway, SH 45 Southwest, US 183 North and SH 71 Express, past the airport.

He graciously answered our member questions, including explaining the Carma Carpooling pilot project, a ridesharing project under testing, as well as explained how the variable tolling will work on Mopac; based on peak traffic and travel times plus road capacity. As always, we thoroughly enjoyed Mike's presentation (.pdf) and candid Q&A session.

After Mike’s presentation, we then moved on to hear from Kyle Keahey, Project lead for Project Connect, and Rob Spillar, Director of Transportation for the City of Austin, regarding the City of Austin’s 2014 Austin Strategic Mobility Plan.

They reminded our members that they were there to present on the technical merits of the plan, and that to provide opinion would place them in an unethical situation, so they requested that questions remain focused on the plan, not the politics around the approval of the $600 million bond package (.pdf).

This November, City of Austin voters will consider a $600 million general obligation bond proposition. If approved, the bonds would pay a portion of the cost of a fixed-rail transit system known as “Urban Rail” that would service the East Riverside Corridor, downtown Austin, the State Capitol Complex, Medical School complex, the University of Texas, Hancock Center, Austin Community College Highland Campus and surrounding neighborhoods.

Operation and maintenance of the Urban Rail line is expected to be managed and funded through a cooperative agreement between the City and Capital Metropolitan Transit Authority. The proposition, if approved, would authorize Capital Metro to participate in this cooperative arrangement and spend a portion of its operating funds on the operation and maintenance of the Urban Rail system.

If approved, the City would not issue bonds to pay costs of the Urban Rail line (other than expenditures for planning, designing and engineering) unless: 1) the City obtains commitments for grant or match funding from the Federal Transit Administration or one or more other federal or state sources for the cost of the Urban Rail system; and 2) the City provides funding of not less than $400 million for roadway improvement projects identified in the 2014 Austin Strategic Mobility Plan approved by Austin City Council.

The roadway improvement projects are designed to relieve congestion, enhance mobility and manage traffic in the I-35, US 183, SH 71, RM 620, RM 1826, RM 2222, FM 734 (Parmer), Lamar Boulevard, and Loop 360 corridors.

If the proposition is approved, the City expects to issue up to a combined $1 billion in bonds or other forms of debt ($600 million for Urban Rail, as authorized by voters, and $400 million of bonds or other debt instruments to be authorized by City Council). All of the debt would be repaid by property taxes or other lawfully available funds.

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