The Making of A New Downtown MetroRail Station

February 26, 2015 by Kate Harrington

There’s no shortage of proposals when it comes to next steps for Austin transportation. From calls to look into a subway system to bus meetings about enhancing existing options, ideas abound.

Amid all those ideas for potential transportation growth, there is one transit project that is definitely going to take shape: the current Downtown MetroRail station is going to expand, thanks to a 2014 Texas Department of Transportation grant of $50 million. Part of that grant – $28 million – will go toward the purchase of four new MetroRail trains. The new trains should allow up to 2,400 additional passenger trips during peak rush hours. The remaining $22 million will go toward a new, permanent downtown station.

The vision for that new station includes a facility that will connect to MetroBus service, and maybe to a future urban rail system. It could also include up to three tracks and two platforms, which would accommodate future MetroRail system expansions, Project Connect says.

Commuters who ride the MetroRail now are well aware of the need not just for additional trains, but for a larger downtown station. While it is the busiest station on the MetroRail’s Redline, it is also the smallest. And it will only get busier, with the Waller Creek improvement zone, central business district, and new construction surrounding the station.

Capital Metro Gateway Concept rendering
A preliminary rendering of one of the station design concepts. (City of Austin / Project Connect)

Project Connect says the new station will cost between $30 million and $35 million, with the remainder coming from local partners.

The next steps are to finalize a design for the new station, which is being called the Gateway station. Capital Metro met with residents and stakeholders in 2014 to identify criteria for the station, and in January and February held a public workshop and webinar. The goal is to not only create a functional space to accommodate transit in a growing city, but an active, public space.

Over the next few months, the Project Connect partners expect to narrow down the amenities and final design details for the new station.

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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.