Get Ready To See New Designs For Austin’s Project Connect Light Rail System

Austin Project Connect light rail, Austin transit partnership, new designs for light rail, Project Connect light rail system, Project Connect rapid bus system

Smart Austin Concierge

March 17, 2023

Austin’s Project Connect rail and rapid bus system is still in development and transit planners are readying to share new designs with the community. The Austin Transit Partnership, the governmental entity formed to manage Project Connect’s rollout alongside the city and Capital Metro, will host an open house on March 21 to share more information about the light rail network.

After several failed attempts to bring a more robust rail system to Austin, voters approved a permanent tax hike in 2020 to fund Project Connect. The project is expected to bring two light rail lines and several new rapid bus routes to the city, followed later by a commuter rail line linking Northeast Austin to downtown.

Public engagement over portions of Project Connect from station designs to rail line layouts progressed through last spring, when planners announced billions of dollars in cost increases over initial projections. That update led to a recalibration of the program’s next steps, including light rail, that has yet to be detailed in public.

CapMetro and the ATP are now laying out Project Connect under permanent leadership after both agencies were working under interim directors since last year. The scope of the proposed rail lines has yet to be finalized, and planners are also working to secure billions in federal funding needed to support the transit investment.

No further community briefings or discussions are currently scheduled beyond the March 21 open house, but ATP and CapMetro leaders have said they will be soliciting more input from Austinites as planning continues. However that work proceeds, Project Connect could also face new state-imposed hurdles if proposals aimed at entities like the ATP are approved by the Texas Legislature.

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