Austin’s Capital Metro Gearing Up for Massive Light Rail System

Written by Bill Wilson, Engineering Editor; and Editor-in-Chief, Railway Track & Structures
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Austin’s Capital Metro is proposing a mammoth light rail line that could cost as much as $10 billion. Photo via Capital Metro.

Some think big, but Austin’s Capital Metro is thinking massive.

The Texas transit agency is rolling out plans for a light rail system that will include a subway system through downtown Austin, city tunnels, a new bridge across Lady Bird Lake and a connection to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The total cost of the project could be as high as $10 billion. Capital Metro is expecting to make the recommendation at a joint meeting between the Austin City Council and the Cap Metro board.

When Capital Metro initially announced the plan a few months ago, the cost was expected to be about $4.7 billion. Paying for the endeavor might require a massive tax increase, bond or both. The Austin City Council is expected to put something on the November ballot related to the new Orange Line project. The Federal Transit Administration could cover 40% of the cost.

“These recommendations are a bold vision for moving people today and planning for the future of our growing region,” Capital Metro President Randy Clarke said in a statement. “Our community made it clear that they are ready for action, and this plan is the beginning of a mobility transformation that will improve the quality of life for everyone.”

The Orange Line will run near U.S. 183 and close to the University of Texas before moving to south Austin. Future plans call for the line to extend north to Tech Ridge and as far south as Slaughter Lane. An improved Blue Line would connect the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Riverside Drive and ultimately to Trinity Street. It would include the new rail bridge over Lady Bird Lake.

The public will be able to comment on the plans over the next two months.

Categories: Commuter/Regional, High Performance, Intercity, Light Rail, News, Passenger, Rapid Transit Tags: ,