AUSTIN, Texas — As Austin area students enjoy the final weeks of summer vacation, city crews are hard at work improving the sidewalks and crosswalks many students use to get to school.
The improvements are part of the $720 million mobility bond Austin voters approved in 2016. The bond included $27.5 million for the city's Safe Routes to School program. The funds will be divided evenly between all 10 Austin City Council districts so that each district will get $2.75 million of improvements.
Over the last two years, city staff collected community feedback and completed walking audits of 130 Austin schools, district-wide public meetings and pop-up events. They are using the data to create reports for each district, identifying barriers elementary and middle school students face, and creating project lists of the improvements that need to be made.
This week, the city released reports for Districts 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10.
"Within the five reports, there's about 1,600 barriers that were identified for a cost of about $340 million," said Amir Emamian, Project Manager for the City of Austin's Safe Routes to School program. "So it's wide-ranging."
The priority projects in District 1, Central East Austin, include curb extensions, refreshing crosswalk markings and adding new ADA ramp near Blackshear Elementary.
On Tuesday, crews worked to fix a sidewalk near Winn Elementary that city staff said was in poor condition.
In District 2, Southeast Austin, crews will install a new sidewalk on Ross Road near Del Valle Elementary and Middle Schools.
There are currently no priority reports listed for Districts 8 or 9.
In District 10, which encompasses West and Northwest Austin, crews plan to improve sidewalks near O'Henry Middle School and Bryker Woods Elementary.
"What we're doing is going through each district and, since we have limited funding with $2.75 million per district and looking at projects by proximity to school and interconnected project, different ways we can leverage funds," Emamian told KVUE. "If there is a sidewalk project, we'll make it eight feet so bikers and walkers can use it. So, we're looking at ways that we are spending our money efficiently."
The City is taking public feedback on the five reports that have been published until July 29. The reports for the remaining five districts are set to be released in the fall.
WATCH: Safer routes to school
PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING: