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Capital Metro Reveals a New Transportation Plan

Capital Metro revealed their long-term strategy Monday, March 26, that includes 11 high-traffic corridors for light rail or rapid bus lines driving in designated lanes. The Austin Capital Metro board decided Monday to ask Austin for up to $15 million for an engineering and environmental study in a new bond election coming this fall.

Capital Metro would provide another $5 million for the first studies and will also ask Travis County to help chip in for them. This would start the first round of transportation projects for the next decade.

Capital Metro sees this Project Connect plan as a “multigenerational investment”  that would cost as much as $6 billion to $8 billion and take up to 30 years to accommodate the new growth.

It’s unclear how Capital Metro will pay for this new transportation system since it is funded by a 1% sales tax that only provides enough money to run its current bus routes and the one existing rail line from Downtown Austin to Leander.

Capital Metro Map Project Connect

Rail and Rapid Bus Lines

The draft strategy divides the routes into four priorities. The highest priority projects include a blue line from downtown Austin to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport along East Riverside Drive, a brown line on South Congress Avenue from downtown to Slaughter Lane and an orange line on Lavaca Street and Guadalupe streets going to far North Austin.

The second level of project priorities are the purple line that would follow along Manor Road to the Travis County Exposition Center and the yellow line would go from downtown Austin to Oak Hill on South Lamar Boulevard and U.S. 290. The existing red line from downtown Austin to Leander would also be expanded.

The third priority is a gold line that would go from downtown Austin to the Austin Community College Highland campus.

A fourth set of priorities includes service to Manor, an east-west line, service along South Pleasant Valley Road to the McKinney Falls area and on East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from downtown Austin to Decker Lane.

Randy Clarke, the new president and CEO of Capital Metro, would not be specific on which corridors would have rail or rapid bus service. Capital Metro began crafting the Project Connect plan a couple years ago. There have been two previously unsuccessful attempts to build light rail in Austin. It makes sense that they have laid out their larger regional transit plan to attract the most amount of voters to approve the first round of priorities, hoping that another line will eventually reach them too.