Shovel ready, it turns out, doesn't always mean shovel ready.
In the first year of the Obama administration, the federal government awarded Austin a $1.9 million stimulus grant for a project the city called "shovel ready": a 3.2-mile concrete bicycle trail along the northern portion of Walnut Creek in North Austin. More than two years later, there is only a clear-cut, 20-foot-wide swath, along with some partially buried metal rods and concrete along the creek.
Work has stopped and will not resume anytime soon. The city, after fearing it would lose the federal money, is starting over. Oversight of the project has been moved to a different city department. And city officials terminated the project's landscape architecture firm and construction company, which have been paid more than $1 million combined for plans that are being abandoned and construction work that might have to be redone.
Lawyers for the two firms and the city disagree about who was at fault, who should have been paid and how much.
City employees, in emails to one another, have called the project "troubled," an "embarrassment to the city" and a "typical (City of Austin) problem."
The completion date is now tentatively May 2013. That is four years after city and state officials deemed the project "shovel ready" and therefore eligible for stimulus money.
"We are extraordinarily disappointed with what's been happening," said Javier Bonafont, president of the Walnut Crossing Neighborhood Association, which oversees an area west of MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1) and north of Duval Road. "That path is supposed to provide us safe access across MoPac and to places like Austin Community College. Now it's just a scar along the back of people's properties.<<<....
As for me, I am opposed to the 1.9 million dollar bike path and the 250 million dollar race track.
How about you?
Do you believe the state should be giving 250 million dollars to Bernie Ecclestone for his race track?