Zimmerman stays neutral on $720 million transportation bond

Place 6 Austin City Council member Don Zimmerman is not promoting or opposing the $720 million transportation bond at this point.

Place 6 Austin City Council member Don Zimmerman is not promoting or opposing the $720 million transportation bond at this point.

By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News

Place 6 Austin City Council member Don Zimmerman said he thinks there are both pros and cons with the $720 million transportation bond that Austin residents will vote on in November.

“I’m not promoting the bond but I’m not opposing the bond either,” Zimmerman said.

He said he is not opposing it because it contains a substantial amount of money that would be earmarked for district 6 transportation improvements.

“We do have $30 million dedicated to district 6 congestion relief if it passes,” he said.

One of the projects that could be funded is the RM 2222 bypass project that would provide relief for the RM 620/ RM 2222 intersection.

“CAMPO is ready to include this in their plan, subject to funding. If this bond passes in November, there will be money to push that project forward,” Zimmerman said. “There’s also some matching TxDOT money as well.”

He is not outright supporting the bond, however, because of the amount of money in it that he says will do nothing to provide traffic relief.

“I’m very unhappy with the amount of money going to urban trails and sidewalks,” he said. “Hundreds of million are planned for corridors. The details I have say it’s not going to improve traffic congestions.”

The transportation bond is just one of several transportation updates Zimmerman plans to discuss at an upcoming fundraiser for his November re-election campaign. The event will take place Aug. 2 at 7 p.m. at the home of Carla George, located on Lake Travis across from Steiner Ranch.

Zimmerman said Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty and Texas Supreme Court Justice John Devine also plan to attend the Aug. 2 event. Commissioner Daugherty will also give an update on the county’s efforts to improve traffic congestion.

“We’ve been advocating for road expansion for more than a decade,” Zimmerman said about his relationship with Daugherty.

Austin City Council
July 25 was the first day that candidates could file to run for city council. The deadline to file is Aug. 22.

Zimmerman said he has accomplished a lot in his first term on the city council. He said he is the only city council member who opened an office within his district, which has helped hundreds of constituents and saved them trips downtown. He said he’s also served as the “taxpayers’ voice of reason” and worked to defeat the 2015 $300 million Travis County bond.

Zimmerman also made headlines when he sued the City of Austin in July 2015 over four of its campaign finance rules. On July 20, Federal District Court Judge Lee Yeakel issued a final judgment, striking down two of the rules and upholding the other two.

According to the ruling, the city can no longer enforce its “blackout period” on campaign fundraising, and another rule requiring that candidates either pay leftover contributions to the City or dissolve their campaign funds between elections. The order enjoins the City from enforcing these provisions.

“I am grateful for the excellent work of (attorney Jerad) Najvar on this important case, and grateful we have won some relief,” Zimmerman said in a press release. “We are examining our further options regarding the affirmation of our First Amendment rights to political speech.”