Light rail could play a major role in Austin’s Project Connect

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
railroad tracks
Rail traffic continues to slide

By 2040, bus rapid transit will not be able to handle all of the stops in the city of Austin, Texas. Officials provided a glimpse of a game-changing transit plan called Project Connect. It will be the first high-capacity transit system in Austin, and it has been decided that due to population growth over the next 20 years both bus rapid transit and light rail will need to be part of the plan. 

The Austin City Council and Capital Metro Board talked about transit options on Jan. 14. CapMetro believes relying solely on bus rapid transit is not going to work. An analysis on bus rapid transit was recently completed, and the focus has now shifted to light rail. Cost of the system, which will consist of an Orange Line and Blue Line, is expected to cost between $3.2 to $10.2 billion, and officials believe up to 40 percent can be federally funded. The remaining funds might have to be approved by voters in November.

A light rail line might call for the construction of a tunnel in downtown Austin. CapMetro and the Austin City Council hope to finalize recommendations by March.

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