Student Government endorses mobility bond

Paul Cobler

Student Government passed AR 11 on Tuesday, endorsing Austin’s Proposition 1 and calling on UT students to vote in favor of the mobility bond during the election. 

The $720 million bond allocates funds toward improving designed mobility corridors and roads throughout the city. 

“There are a lot of little improvements that need to happen, and the only way to do them is through this bond,” said David Bemporad, co-director of city relations for SG. “For us, it’s a huge improvement for life around campus. This is something that majorly affects students at the city level, and as student body representatives, Student Government needs to make sure it happens.”

The assembly passed the resolution, co-written by Bemporad, by a vote of 22–2, with three representatives abstaining from the vote.

The bond, if passed by voters, would include improvements on Guadalupe Street and East Riverside Drive, both near UT student housing.

“Both Guad and Riverside have heavy student populations … that we travel on a lot,” Bemporad said. “We really do need to make sure they get improved. Right now both the areas are unsafe, not well-lit and have bus stops that are not well-allocated.”

According to the city’s website, funds for the bond will be raised through an increase in the city property tax, something biology freshman Mbayi Aben said may prevent her for voting in favor of it.

“I stay on campus, so I don’t own property so I don’t have to pay taxes,” Aben said. “I am pretty sure though, the people who do are going to complain about it because it’s going to be expensive. There are a lot of things that need to be done in Austin, and I don’t think roads are first in line for that money.”

Despite concerns of cost, Bemporad said the bond would make campus safer for students, something he thinks outweighs any other anxieties.

“Student safety has been a primary concern for this administration,” Bemporad said. “There are root issues — poorly lit bus stops, unpaved sidewalks, poorly lit sidewalks, unsafe bike lanes — that are inherently unsafe and have not been addressed yet by the city. We are lucky enough that this bond addresses those things, and overall this helps student safety via bus, bike and lighting.”

SG president Kevin Helgren said he thinks the endorsement reflects the general opinion of the student body and said it’s important for SG to formally voice that opinion.

“We’re never going to get it 100 percent right,” Helgren said. “But I think that all of the representatives do an excellent job of gauging feedback from their council. So 99 percent of the time any time Student Government passes a resolution, it is indeed reflective of student opinions.”

In his speech to the assembly, Bemporad encouraged SG to help Austin progress as a city through endorsing the bond.

“This is the next step towards making Austin the next great American metroplex,” Bemporad said. “If we don’t take this next step, we will not have the full ability that
Austin has. So I encourage you to take this next step. Move forward, we can no longer afford to stand still.”