Cherrywood Project Connect Meeting, July 9, 2014

Written by Brendan Wittstruck

Cherrywood Detail: Project Connect Central Corridor Recommendation Map-cw-webThis Wednesday, July 9th, the Cherrywood Steering Committee will welcome representatives from Project Connect to present urban rail bond package information to neighbors. All are encouraged to attend this informational event.

Project Connect is an ongoing, collaborative effort among Capital Metro, CAMPO, the City of Austin and Lone Star Rail looking at regional options for multi-modal transit. Most recently, the Project Connect effort has introduced two Metro Rapid Bus Rapid Transit (BRT, or “bendy bus”) lines on N. Lamar/S. Congress (801) and Burnet/S. Lamar (803). The greater Project Connect vision also includes commuter and urban rail proposals, additional BRT and new mobility uses for Interstate 35 and MoPac, eventually resulting in a complete regional connected system of buses and trains.

You have likely heard about the urban rail proposal and the anticipated bond package for this November election. Project Connect’s proposed first line of urban rail would connect the East Riverside and Highland corridors on a route running from Grove Boulevard along Riverside, crossing the lake over a new bridge, and traveling through downtown and the UT campus to stops at Hancock Center and ACC-Highland Mall. The map below shows the proposed route.

Project Connect Central Corridor Recommendation Map

Image courtesy of Project Connect.

A couple of key points for the urban rail proposal:

  • The 9.5 mile route would include 16 stops, 2 transfers (downtown and Hancock) with the Red Line and allow for future extension to Bergstrom Airport from the Grove station, and future Mueller and Lamar route connections;
  • The estimated price tag for the project is $1.4 billion, at least half of which would be Federal funding; The November bond will include $600 million for urban rail, and would be paid for through property tax increases estimated at $11/month;
  • The project will likely feature a rail and pedestrian/bicycle bridge over Lady Bird Lake and a tunnel from Hancock Center north to Airport Boulevard;
  • Cherrywood residents would be most directly served by the Hancock Center station (from which the future connection to Mueller would likely occur), where neighbors would be within quick transit reach of St. David’s Hospital, Darrell K. Royal Stadium, the UT Medical School and Innovation District, State Capitol, Convention Center and two ACC campuses (Highland and Riverside);
  • Although the November bond will likely also include funding for highway improvements, the Project Connect proposal is not affiliated with the Mobility35 plans (Cherrywood is also hosting a special meeting on Mobility35 on Monday, July 14th)

The proposal is not without its opponents, and many will remember that a 2000 urban rail bond for the Lamar/Guadalupe Corridor failed at the ballot. However, the Project Connect urban rail proposal has been endorsed by City Council and the Central Corridor Advisory Group (CCAG) and has won endorsement from a variety of civic advocacy groups, including SaferStreetsATX whose mission is toward policy and transit efforts to combat drunk driving. The introduction of urban rail into Austin’s mobility infrastructure will be an important step in crafting the future of the City. Or, as Mayor Leffingwell more succinctly puts it, “rail or fail.”

Please join the neighborhood Steering Committee to learn more this Wednesday (July 9th). The meeting will start at 6:30 PM at Asbury Servant Church (1605 E 38th 1/2 St). Project Connect’s John-Michael Cortez will be on-hand to answer questions about the proposal. All neighbors are welcome!

Additional info:

Project Connect: Central Corridor Options. Last public workshop considers the future of high-capacity transit, Austin Chronicle

Cost Detail Emerge for Proposed Project Connect Route, BuildingATX.com

Chttp://buildingatx.com/2014/04/cost-details-emerge-for-proposed-project-connect-route/

 

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