AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Austin Transit Partnership Board of Directors gave Wednesday its official approval of the Austin Light Rail plan recommendation that was laid out Monday.

Austin City officials packed the ATP boardroom and congratulated each other for getting to this milestone in the transportation initiative, almost three years after 58% of Austin voters approved Project Connect in November 2020. 

“Today is a really happy day,” Veronica Castro de Barrera, Chairwoman of the ATP board, said.

The board did not lay out any new information but summarized the plan and reflected on all the hard work city staff has undertaken to get them to this point. 

“This Austin Light rail implementation plan you have in front of you today…embodies the values that we have been talking about with this community and gets us to a system that is interconnected – a system that is expandable; a system that can be used by all of Austin; a system that gets to areas that have been under-invested throughout our history. And we think that is really important,” ATP’s Executive Director Greg Canally said. “We’re proud of the work we’ve done,” he continued. 

The plan – which will likely get approvals from the Austin City Council and Capital Metro Board of Directors in the coming weeks – is for a 9.8-mile route that will run from 38th Street down to Oltorf Street and southeast to Yellow Jacket Lane. 

Transit officials estimate the rail line will serve just under 30,000 riders daily and will provide access to over 136,000 jobs. The project is expected to cost up to $4.5 billion and will use both local and federal funds to pay for it. 

“It’s great to see this many people invested in making the light rail a reality in this community,” Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said. “I think this staff recommendation is made in…the spirit of prioritizing community outcomes for future generations.” 

“I am very proud of all the work y’all have done. It’s exhausting, it’s difficult and it is remarkable,” Castro de Barrera said. “I do want to commend all of you.”