As you may have heard or read in the media over the last several months, the
regional transportation body CAMPO has made a recommendation for Austin's first
urban rail line in its plan, PROJECT CONNECT. The phase one priority alignment
connects downtown to the Mueller Development and passes through the UT Campus on
San Jacinto Street in front of DKR Stadium.
Earlier this month, Kyle Keahey of the firm HNTB was hired as the new urban
rail lead. He will be the point person between the public and the three
agencies, the City of Austin, Capital Metro, and Lone Star Rail, to coordinate
the management of the urban rail program. His first task is to assess the
current recommendation and identify any gaps in the process, including public
At the same time, several grassroots initiatives are underway by new and
established groups citywide. These groups have either called into question the
Mueller alignment recommendation, or have decried the lack of transparency, the lack of data to support the current recommendation, and the lack of public
involvement in the current planning process.
This week, The Daily Texan published an editorial supporting a UT Student
Government resolution calling for consideration of a Guadalupe and North
Lamar urban rail alignment.
UT Student Government is the official voice of 52,000 students. Their
resolution was passed unanimously on Tuesday night.
On Thursday, the City Council passed a modified Interlocal tri-party
agreement for the management of the urban rail program. This agreement began as a 20-page draft containing multiple references and maps for the Mueller alignment, but was amended over the last two weeks to be 10 pages and route-agnostic. Even though there is great urgency to present a plan to the
voters next year, policymakers from all three all agencies have gone on record
that all routes are still on the table, including Guadalupe and North Lamar. The
new rail lead has been given no limitations in that regard and is free to look
at all alignments.
The next few weeks are a pivotal time in the light rail process. Capital
Metro is still soliciting input on the Project Connect plan, and its rail
recommendation to Mueller. If you would like to weigh-in on this important
matter, NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME. A public input portal can be found here: http://bit.ly/capmetro-rail