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The City of Austin, Capital Metro, Lone Star Rail and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning organization came together to create Project Connect, a high-capacity transit system vision for Central Texas. Project Connect incorporates multiple modes of transportation including express lanes, bus rapid transit (BRT), urban rail, regional rail and commuter rail, in addition to existing local bus service to create a system that will help get Central Texas moving again. There are many projects that are part of the Project Connect Vision, all of which have unique timelines and goals to benefit all areas of our region, but one of the most active projects right now is called the Central Corridor High Capacity Transit Study.

The urban rail project that staff presented as a recommendation to the Central Corridor Advisory Group (CCAG) includes construction of a new, signature bridge over Lady Bird Lake that would accommodate urban rail and could also feature bicycle and pedestrian pathways. Another proposed feature of the recommendation is a short tunnel near Hancock Center that would carry the urban rail under the Capital Metro Red Line tracks on the east end of Hancock Center near I-35. The tunnel is subject to further studies.

The urban rail system, which is expected to operate in mostly dedicated right-of-way (separated tracks from regular traffic flow), would run on a 10-15 minute service frequency with 16 stations along the entire 9.5 mile alignment. The urban rail line through downtown is estimated to carry an average of 16,000-20,000 people a day carrying more during special events and weekends. The recommended project will continue to be designed and reviewed through the National Environmental Policy Act environmental study process.

The recommendation has yet to be adopted and your comments will be incorporated into the larger discussion as the governing bodies, the advisory group, City Council and Capital Metro Board, plan to take action. Speak up now in the Project Connect: Central Corridor discussions (found at the bottom of this page) about these alternatives, their trade-offs and what it could mean for a rapidly growing Austin. Let’s get moving!

Visit projectconnect.com for more information about the overall vision, and visit projectconnect.com/connect/central-corridor for more information about the Central Corridor Study.

Topics

After extensive community input and technical analysis, the Project Connect Team has recommended the next public transportation project within the Project Connect regional transit vision.   You can learn more about the process we used to identify the recommended next project here: Project Connect Process.

The recommended  urban rail project includes construction of a new, signature bridge over Lady Bird Lake that would accommodate both urban rail and potentially bicycle/pedestrian pathways. Another proposed feature of the recommendation is a short tunnel near Hancock Center that would carry the urban rail under the Capital Metro Red Line tracks on the east end of Hancock Center near I-35. The tunnel is subject to further studies

The urban rail system, which is expected to operate in mostly dedicated right-of-way (separated tracks from regular traffic flow), would run on a 10-15 minute service frequency with 16 stations along the entire 9.2 mile alignment. The urban rail line through downtown is estimated to carry an average of 16,000-20,000 people a day carrying more during special events and weekends. There are also four planned park and rides along the alignment. The recommended project will continue to be designed and reviewed through the National Environmental Policy Act environmental study process.

Now, three groups of decision-makers will review the recommendation (Central Corridor Working Group, Capital Metro Board, and Austin City Council).  To help them with their decision, we’d like to know: 

What questions or comments do you have about the recommended next project?

105 Responses

The recommended next high-capacity transit project for the Project Connect System is estimated to cost approximately $1.4 billion to build.  It is expected that Project Team would apply for federal grants to cover half of this cost.  There are concerns that the remaining cost may be too large for our community to pay all at once—and may require too high of a tax increase to absorb all at once.  To address these concerns, the Project Team may recommend that the project be built out over time, so that the public can reduce the amount of funding needed to get started.  If the recommended project were to be built in phases, the Project Team will consider factors such as cost and projected ridership in developing a recommended first phase for the project.

Which of these factors are most important to you? Why? Should the Project Team consider any additional factors in developing a first phase recommendation for the project?

27 Responses

The recommended project is the next step toward completing the Project Connect regional transit system. Future steps would include projects identified in the North Corridor study and additional projects to be identified in the Central Corridor (Lamar, Mueller, East Austin) , and other regional corridor studies, including the South Corridor (South Austin, Buda, Kyle, and San Marcos), and Northwest Corridor (Northwest Austin, Research Corridor, Cedar Park, and Leander).

How do you see yourself using the Project Connect regional system and recommended next project once it is built? Will the system offer you more transportation choices?

34 Responses