After holding a series of public meetings, webinars and surveys this fall, Project Connect, a regional transit planning group, has come out with its recommendation for which sub-corridors should receive the first funding in a comprehensive regional transit system.
Leading up to the decision, transit advocates were engaged in heated debate over which part of Austin should see the first investment, with the two main choices seemingly boiled down to a Mueller alignment and a Guadalupe/North Lamar route.
Project Connect’s team identified the East Riverside and Highland sub-corridors as the highest priority areas, and recommended an alignment that would stretch from north-central Austin through the central core, then south and east along Riverside. While a Lamar sub-corridor received the most public support for a first investment, Project Connect pointed to growth along the East Riverside corridor as well as the Highland Mall area, where Austin Community College is redeveloping the old mall into a new campus.
“All of the sub-corridors we looked at could be winners for more transit,” Kyle Keahey, Project Connect project lead said in a press release. “The challenge is balancing current needs and future growth with system connectivity considerations to determine where to go next.”
In December the Central Corridor Advisory Group, appointed by Mayor Lee Leffingwell, will review public comments and the Project Connect recommendation and brief City Council. The next step in the process will be to identify which mode of transit – such as light rail, streetcar or bus rapid transit – will run on the route. Voters will still need to approve a ballot measure next November in order to move the project forward.
Meanwhile, the debate continues online. Blogs like Austin Rail Now continue to question Project Connect’s recommendation. What do you think about Project Connect’s recommendation? Let us know in the comments.