Austin's transportation plan, Project Connect, is moving forward with a series of public (virtual) meetings before a possible November election to approve and fund the plan.
Learn more about the transit plan and give your feedback by attending one of Capital Metro's upcoming virtual meetings.
It might seem like a weird time to talk about this, but… remember Project Connect? It’s the transportation plan for central Texas (which includes Austin’s first-ever, inner-city, high-capacity rail system). And it’s moving forward again.
“This is an investment in the future,” said Jackie Nirenberg (manager for community involvement with Capital Metro). “These projects… its takes a few years to get them completed… At some point, we’re going to be moving again…”
That’s why, over the next few weeks, Capital Metro is going to be hosting (along with all 10 City Council members) a series of virtual meetings to share the full Project Connect plan with the public, answer questions, and collect feedback.
The goal is to get this completed before early June, when the Capital Metro board is expected to vote on the final plan. After that, the conversation over the summer will shift to how to fund the (estimated) $9 billion system, which will likely be paid for with a combination of federal funds and local money, from a bond (one time borrowing) and/or a tax increase (allows for continued funding for maintenance and operations). These local funding options will require voter approval, likely in a November election.
So, where do you come in?
1. Learn more about the plan.
You can explore the entire plan (including maps laying out the specific routes) on the Project Connect website. In case you don’t have time to look through the whole site, here a quick summary of what’s included:
Three rail lines (in their own dedicated lanes, which means they don’t have to wait in traffic)
A downtown transit tunnel – underground transit stations throughout downtown, complete with restaurants, retail, and a live music performance venue
Improved commuter rail – expanded capacity on the existing MetroRail Red Line, plus the creation of a Green Line to serve far east Austin and Manor
An expansion of the MetroRapid bus service – high frequency with a limited number of stops
24 new Park & Rides to serve commuters
2. Attend a Virtual Meeting
There are eight upcoming virtual meetings, where you’ll be able to learn more about Project Connect, ask your questions, and give feedback. Pick whichever one works best with your schedule (or features your Council Member):
May 15th from 2pm to 3:30pm – Greg Casar (District 4) and Leslie Pool (District 7)
May 18th from 1pm to 2:30pm – Natasha Harper-Madison (District 1)
May 19th from 5pm to 6:30pm – Kathie Tovo (District 9)
May 20th from 11am to 12:30pm – Jimmy Flannigan (District 6)
May 20th from 5pm to 6:30pm – Alison Alter (District 10)
May 26th from 11am to noon – Mayor Adler
May 28th from 6pm to 7:30pm – Ann Kitchen (District 5) and Paige Ellis (District 8)
May 29th from 2pm to 3:30pm – Delia Garza (District 2) and Sabino Pio Renteria (District 3)
And how will the current pandemic affect our transit planning? That’s still to be determined, but for Jackie, “it’s uplifting to start thinking about the future.”
“Even more so now, with the backdrop of the pandemic and the economic impact it’s had on everybody, Project Connect is an opportunity not only to get better transit, but also to put people to work,” Jackie said. “There are some economic development opportunities there that I think will probably play a bigger role in the way people think about it.”