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Austin School Board Members Say Transportation Bond Will Improve Student Safety

Kate McGee/KUT News
Some Austin School Board members are showing support for the $720 million transportation bond, which includes money for sidewalk improvement and better walking and biking routes to school.

Some Austin School Board members say the city needs safer, more connected sidewalks for students to walk to school. That's why they joined other Hispanic political and business leaders today in support of the $720 million transportation bond put forth by the Austin City Council.

The press conference was held at an intersection outside Blazier Elementary School in Southeast Austin, one of the most overcrowded schools in Austin ISD. The area is expected to see even more children as a huge 3,800-unit development crops up across the street.  Standing at the intersection, School Board Vice President Paul Saldaña pointed to the grassy sides of the road where there are no sidewalks for students to use.

“This intersection is really indicative of lack of infrastructure and puts in perspective the needs to have intersection improvements, sidewalks, bike lanes," Saldaña said. “These are dangerous situations that our students and families have to maneuver on a daily basis. It’s a lack of quality of life, and when we talk about equity at school board level, this is a good example about how equitable access to transportation and infrastructure really diminishes the quality of life for neighborhoods and communities like this one.”

Trustee Gina Hinojosa said many students of color in Austin ISD come from families without cars.

“Simply put, our students and families deserve access to safe, additional bicycle infrastructure, sidewalk improvements and, in some cases like this intersection, sidewalks – period," Hinojosa said.

The bond proposition puts $37.5 million toward sidewalks and $27.5 million toward the Safe Routes to School Program, which teaches students how to safely walk and bike to school, employs crossing guards and tries to remove obstacles that make it difficult to walk or bike to school.

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