Map: Which Parts of Austin Should Get Urban Rail First?
Now’s your chance to name the parts of Austin that should be served by urban rail.
This week, the City of Austin and its transportation partners are inviting the public to name the subcorridor that would benefit the most from urban rail.
Planners at Project Connect, the team coordinating the city’s rail and regional transportation efforts, have identified 10 subcorridors within central Austin. Not counting downtown’s core, they are (in clockwise order): Lamar, Highland, Mueller, MLK, East Austin, the East Riverside Corridor, South Congress, South Lamar, West Austin, and Mopac.
Identifying a subcorridor for a transit investment is the first phase of Project Connect’s work. The group’s advisory board hopes to have that decision made in about a month.
“So what we’re asking participants to do this week at our workshop sessions is to provide a couple of hours of their time to sit down and review this information with us,” says Kyle Keahey, the rail project lead for Project Connect.
The second phase, beginning January, will identify specific alignments and streets within subcorridors, as either best for rail or other public transportation options, like rapid bus.
“One of the key questions that we are asking ourselves and asking the community to weigh in on is: are we wanting to serve existing issues, or do we want to have the opportunity to shape future conditions?” Keahey asks. “That shape and serve spectrum is an important part of this. … We need to balance both of those.”
That argument’s familiar to advocates for one rail proposal: a Guadalupe-Lamar rail alignment. While the city insists no route or subcorridor is prioritized over another, early city proposals floated the concept of a Mueller alignment.
Several Austin transit advocates have pushed instead for a Guadalupe-Lamar alignment, arguing rail should serve existing demand instead of trying to predict or create demand elsewhere.
“The Lamar corridor, for example, has a lot of people who have believed for a long time that a major high capacity transit investment should be made up and down Lamar or Burnet,” Keahey says. “Certainly they bring a lot of passion to that discussion. What we’ve been asked to do though, is to do a full comparison among all those compass points.”