Archive for October, 2014

I’ve Been Working on The Texas Urban Rail Road

October 4th, 2014, Posted By Austin Housemates

project connect

Back in May, we posted an article on our Facebook about the reality of the Capital Metro rail expansion. Cap Metro plays a big role in how everyone moves around the city, especially if you’re a part of the large number of young professionals who prefer to ride bikes rather than fight traffic. With the budget proposal, Austin’s metro system could see four new passenger cars and new downtown stations to help accommodate the huge increase in pedestrian traffic over the past year. But there’s another bone of contention with this budget that has a lot of local politicians’ heads spinning – The Strategic Mobility Plan.

As of June, many of our mayors are in support of Project Connect, a project aimed at creating an urban rail system that would connect all Austinites to the major stops in our city, including UT, ACC, and the airport. As part of this project, The Strategic Mobility Plan proposes a $1 billion budget that would not only create this urban rail but also improve I-35 highways, expand the Capital Metro, and initiate a series of direct connections to the airport and other hot spots in the city. All of these changes are in an effort to improve the infamous and atrocious highway traffic and accommodate all of tourists visiting for Comic-Con, ACL and Fun Fun Fun Fest, among the other huge events our city hosts throughout the year. But the billion-dollar price tag is proving to be the biggest hurdle to cross.

Use of public transportation in Austin has nearly doubled since last year, and politicians and transportation officials alike believe that this growth is worth the hefty price tag. If you’ve ridden the bus or the MetroRail in the past year, maybe you’ve experienced the delays and overcrowded train cars that make a commute unbearable, or maybe you’re looking for an option that will keep you off I-35 during rush hour. But would an urban rail line be worth it? Similar proposals are happening throughout Texas, including a high-speed rail system that would connect Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth with Austin, but this option is supported by privately-owned companies and therefore does not require a federal or state-funded budget. Would something similar work in Austin? It’s no doubt that traffic is a nuisance, and past expansion projects have succeeded in improving urban congestion, but a billion dollars is a huge investment. It will be up to you to decide if the investment is worth it when you take to the ballot on Nov. 4th.

Vote smart! If you would like more information on the rail expansion, visit the Texas Dept of Transportation website where they’ve uploaded the proposal plan as PDF for all voters to read over and consider.