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Austin Urban Rail Plan Revealed

Updated: Monday, June 23 2014, 10:55 AM CDT

The Project Connect study team highlighted urban rail and a signature bridge crossing Lady Bird Lake in a presentation to the Central Corridor Advisory Group Friday.

The proposal includes 16 stations along the entire 9.5 miles stretch from Highland Mall, through the University of Texas, downtown and down East Riverside Drive.

The total project is estimated at $1.4 Billion.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell says it's an investment to keep our traffic woes as a thing of the past.

"It's an urgent problem. It's a big problem and it calls for a big solution," said Leffingwell.

That solution is the purchase of nine vehicles which will cost $39.9 million.

Other spending includes an east tunnel at Hancock with a $220 million price tag. It's said that expense allows for expansion to the Mueller area.

The biggest decision that came out is construction of a $175 million bridge over Lady Bird Lake. It would accommodate rail as well as bike and pedestrian pathways.

Leffingwell says he plans to chop the total budget by $400,000.

"We are probably going to look at ways to get that down to $1 billion," said Leffingwell.

The urban rail route would operate in mostly dedicated right-of-way separate from traffic flow and would run on a 10-15 minute service.

The project through downtown is estimated to carry an average of 16,000-20,000 people a day, not including the special event riders.

The project would also be connected to four planned park and rides including Middle Fiskville, Hancock Center, Pleasant Valley and Grove.

The concerns transportation groups have are the cost and the fact the route does not go to the airport.

"It essentially is taking people in a travel pattern that most people don't go or can relate to," said Lyndon Henry.

Project connect expects the federal government to pick up half of the $1.4 billion cost through grants.

More steps in the process include a phasing decision on May 16. In June council is set for final approval before the measure goes before voters in November.

The public can give their input on the proposal. The easiest way is at SpeakUpAustin.org. In the coming weeks there will be six to eight open houses and a televised town hall.

By Christie Post

Austin Urban Rail Plan Revealed


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