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Anti-Project Connect PAC member discusses issues with plan

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Anti-Undertaking Join PAC member discusses points with plan

The PAC “Our Mobility, Your Future” is towards the passage of Capital Metro’s proposed $7.1 billion transit plan.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin voters are weeks away from deciding whether or not to approve or reject “Project Connect,” Capital Metro’s $7.1 billion transit plan. Some have known as the plan necessary for Austin’s future – however others suppose it will be a big waste of taxpayer {dollars}.

The PAC “Our Mobility, Your Future” is firmly towards Undertaking Join. The PAC believes the proposed challenge prices an excessive amount of, does too little and can be out of date earlier than it’s accomplished. KVUE spoke with a member of the PAC, Roger Falk, about why he and his colleagues imagine Undertaking Join is the incorrect selection for Austin.

“Greater than 80% of this spending goes for these couple of sunshine rails. [CapMetro] can implement bus and people sorts of issues a lot faster, and that’s a really small piece of this. And, actually, Capital Metro ought to have taken care of those bus routes a very long time in the past. We’ve some transit deserts right here,” Falk stated. “This actually isn’t going to assist a number of these of us. They’re making an attempt to make it appear like a bigger plan by throwing in some bus routes that ought to have already been in place.”

RELATED: How much will CapMetro’s ‘Project Connect’ cost Austin taxpayers?

Falk can also be involved in regards to the a part of the plan that entails a tunnel downtown, saying there’s been little or no examine achieved to see if it’s viable, there isn’t any site visitors plan for it and there aren’t any disruption plans for utilities and different issues which might be underground the place crews could be digging.

In line with CapMetro, the one geotechnical and groundwater evaluation for a transit tunnel to date is predicated on different Austin tunnel work or info from highrise tower research.

However, by far, Falk’s largest concern with Undertaking Join is its value.

“It’s the largest dedication of funds and the largest tax improve we now have ever had within the metropolis of Austin by quite a bit … It’s large. It’s seven instances the largest bond we’ve ever, ever bought on this metropolis. They usually’re doing it very cleverly. They’re utilizing a tax price election that some folks suppose are going to pay for this. It’s not. Whenever you run the mathematics on that eight-and-three-quarter cents, it doesn’t give you almost sufficient cash,” Falk stated.

In line with the Metropolis, the tax price income, or Proposition A, is one supply of funding that may assist construct, function and keep the system. CapMetro will even allocate its Capital Growth Fund to the challenge. The plan additionally depends on 45% of funding the Metropolis and CapMetro expect to obtain from the federal authorities.

“The opposite downside is that they’ve predicated this on federal funds that aren’t dedicated, not assured. They don’t even have an utility in place. It’s a aggressive course of. They’re telling folks they’ve received this factor as a achieved deal. It isn’t a achieved deal. And that’s going to come back on the backs of our native taxpayers,” Falk stated.

RELATED: There are 2 transportation propositions on Austin residents’ ballot this November. Here’s the difference

Falk additionally doesn’t purchase into the claims from Undertaking Join supporters saying the plan would make strides towards combating local weather change. Whereas he stated it will scale back emissions if CapMetro goes to electrical buses, he thinks the company must be doing that anyway and “we’re going to all be driving electrical vehicles sooner or later.”

“We must be doing nothing and letting expertise take its course as a result of we’re going to be placing cash into an outdated expertise right here. And it’s an enormous mistake,” Falk stated. “That is the second in time folks want to comprehend this and vote it down as a result of it’s a huge mistake.”

Falk believes mild rail is an “archaic system” and that its fixed-route, fixed-schedule mannequin wouldn’t be the fitting option to attempt to assist clear up Austin’s mobility issues.

“What we must be doing as a substitute of investing in outdated mild rail expertise is placing cash into tri-modal pathways and higher high quality infrastructure to conduct micro-mobility utility, e-bikes, these sorts of issues,” Falk stated. “We have to get severe about this as a result of it’s the longer term, and cease losing cash with mild rail and begin placing cash into the way forward for mobility.”

Along with his perception that mild rail is outdated, Falk additionally doesn’t suppose folks will use it. He stated most individuals are merely not going to forgo utilizing their vehicles to make use of public transit. And he identified that the continued results of the COVID-19 pandemic might vastly have an effect on mild rail and bus ridership.

“Two-thirds of the ridership goes away, if not three-fourths, from social distancing. It’s dangerous. There’s loads of research, extra popping out on a regular basis, that present pandemic and pathogen is well transmitted by means of these public transit methods. Lots of people aren’t going again to them. Lots of people gained’t as a result of they’re working from residence now,” Falk stated.

Falk additionally stated that the truth that, ought to Undertaking Join cross, the Metropolis intends to designate $300 million of it to anti-displacement efforts demonstrates that the Metropolis already sees a major problem with its personal plan.

“They’re going to run all of the inexpensive housing out of right here. They usually’re going to switch it with for-profit stainless granite growth that’s out of the associated fee vary of the poor, low-income folks, largely folks of shade, which might be alongside these transit strains. That is going to maneuver them out,” Falk stated.

Total, Falk and “Our Mobility, Your Future” suppose that Undertaking Join is a plan with mislaid priorities and that Austinites must be placing their cash into different mobility options like micro-mobility choices resembling bikes and scooters.

“As an alternative of placing cash into outdated, drained mild rail, we must be placing that cash into the longer term, which is what our good mobility persons are engaged on and implementing,” he stated. “That’s my prescription.”

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