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!