Will COVID-19 cripple chances of Austin’s Project Connect?

Written by RT&S Staff
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Rising real estate costs and inflation have caused the cost of Austin’s Project Connect to almost double.

The future of Austin, Texas, is not going to change, it is just being delayed. City officials will turn to the public and ask if they want to still move forward with a massive light-rail expansion plan or if they want to ditch the effort entirely.

COVID-19 continues to rough up city economies, and Capital Metro and the Austin City Council want to gauge the public interest on Project Connect. The project is expected to cost almost $10 billion. The federal government will supply $3.9 billion, leaving $5.9 billion on the taxpayers’ table. Austin residents would have to approve a tax increase in the upcoming November election.

Capital Metro Board Chair Wade Cooper is insisting that once the pandemic passes the city of Austin will still have the same congestion relief needs that were there before COVID-19 entered the fray.

Two more public meetings on Project Connect will be held this week, and the Austin City Council and Capital Metro Board are expected to make Project Connect official during a meeting on June 10.

A funding plan is expected to be revealed later in the summer. Project Connect calls for the construction of 36 miles of light rail and will feature a subway tunnel in downtown Austin. Construction could start in 2028.

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