What A New Austin Urban Rail Route Might Look Like

February 27, 2014 by Kate Harrington

Little by little, the details of Project Connect’s proposed transit line are starting to come into focus. At a Feb. 21 presentation to the Central Corridor Advisory Group, the Project Connect team unveiled a route for the line they hope will connect Central Austin, Downtown, and the East Riverside Corridor.

The proposed nine-mile route will stretch from East Riverside Drive to cross Lady Bird Lake either over a new bridge east of Congress Avenue, or through a tunnel. It would then continue up Trinity Street or San Jacinto Boulevard, continue through the University of Texas campus along San Jacinto, and eventually to the Austin Community College Highland campus, via either Red River Street and Airport Boulevard, or Red River and an I-35 frontage road.


It is still unclear what form of transit the Project Connect team will recommend; speculation has been that it will either be a rapid bus line or a rail line, although at this point it seems most likely that the final proposal will involve rail. Also still to come is information on the cost, who will operate the system, whether the system will have a dedicated corridor, and potential station locations. Project Connect is scheduled to present the answers to some of those questions in April.

Austin voters will be asked to approve a bond proposal this fall to help finance the system. The Federal Transit Administration is expected to help cover some of the costs as well. Whether voters will be asked to fund the entire nine miles or only a segment is also unanswered for now.

Some transit advocates had been vocally disappointed that the Project Connect route will not, for now, include Guadalupe Street and North Lamar Boulevard. Many of those advocates are now pushing for the transit line’s financing and construction to start with the East Riverside Corridor, where there’s likely to be greater demand and ridership.

Do you think the proposed transit line route is the right one? Where do you think it would be the most successful? Leave your comments below!

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Written by Kate Harrington

Kate is a former reporter, most recently for the Austin Business Journal, where she covered real estate, economic development and transportation. Since 2010 she has been running Thumbtack Communications. Thumbtack provides writing, editing and marketing services. Before moving to Austin in 2002 Kate lived in her native New England, which she still visits often to escape the Texas heat.