AUSTIN (KXAN) — Time is running out to let transportation officials know how you feel about the redesigned light rail options for Austin’s Project Connect.
Building a light rail in Austin is proving to be an incredibly heavy lift.
Flashback to November 2020, when voters approved drastic improvements to Austin’s mass transportation system. The vision looked to include several light rail lines, a new downtown tunnel system and added bus routes.
After skyrocketing construction costs, the Austin Transit Partnership has scaled back the plan significantly. ATP released in late March five options that should land closer to the $7.1 billion plan approved by Austin voters.
“We have three that are called on street and we have one that is called partially elevated, and another that was called partially underground,” Jocelyn Vokes, ATP’s public involvement manager, said.
All five new routes have a portion of the light rail line going through a dense and diverse part of Austin, including Riverside Drive and east of Interstate 35.
“Another point of data is the BIPOC share of population. Again, we’re using information from the 2020 census. We also looked at affordable housing,” Vokes said.
One of the routes goes all the way to the airport, but the portion of the line at AUS would have to be elevated, which costs more. As a result, only one option features an initial light rail investment going to the airport, with a limited scope that only goes as far north as the University of Texas campus.
Drastic changes lie ahead for Austin transportation. In the rendering for Guadalupe Street and Republic Square Park, the light rail line runs down the center of Guadalupe, with vehicle traffic shown traveling in both directions.
Here’s how you can share an opinion with the city on the options. Officials will announce the plan on June 6.