After the city council recently approved the Joint Powers Agreement confirming the role of the city, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Austin Transit Partnership in completing Project Connect, last week’s mobility committee meeting mainly focused on updates on the many Facets of the $ 7.1 billion project.
Sam Sargent, Director of Strategy for ATP and Capital Metro, gave the committee mostly positive news about the progress of the Orange and Blue Line, along with the Red Line’s expansion and what is to come in the Green Line’s planning for the East Austin area will serve the transit-oriented development project Colony Park.
Improvements to the MetroRapid bus service are underway as planned, including a number of new overturning routes in the neighborhood to areas such as North Oak Hill and South Menchaca and the use of new technology to make bus service more accessible to customers. The bus service is also expected to deliver the first electrified buses by December 22nd, part of an order of 197 that will ultimately save 115 tons of greenhouse gases that would have been generated by internal combustion engine local transport.
In the next big steps for the development of the orange and blue lines, work is progressing on environmental impact statements that will enable further technical plans and applications for federal funds to supplement the bond financing votes approved last year. Sargent said full funding plans for these lines should be completed by 2024.
The transit station at McKalla Place, which was one of the city’s requirements in connection with the land contract that enabled the construction of the nearby football stadium, is progressing as planned in the planning phase. So far, 30 percent of the design is complete, and Sargent said construction contracts will be awarded in January, with site work scheduled to begin in May to allow for an opening in the fall of 2022.
The Gold Line for the MetroRapid bus service, which will run from downtown to the Austin Community College’s Highland campus, along with VRT routes to the Oak Hill and Menchaca areas, recently completed funding and incremental studies. The service from the city center to ACC is scheduled to begin in January 2023, and the service from Menchaca in early 2024.
Councilor Ann Kitchen said she would like staff to ensure that planning for land use and other components of transport-related developments related to Project Connect follows the procedural steps outlined in the council’s recent actions to create TOD.
“The ETOD resolution that we passed … had a provision that asked staff to come back to the council and identify the areas we could adopt for transit planning so that we can comply with the regulation,” she said. “I want to make sure we don’t skip a step.”
Kitchen was one of the most vocal concerns when considering the joint powers agreement earlier this month, with particular focus on how far staff could get in discussions with transport companies about funding and planning without the approval of the council.
Councilor Paige Ellis said the new bus circulation lines are welcome in their district and need special attention to handle any potential increase in usage on upcoming construction projects in the Oak Hill area.
“The construction and upheaval that the community will see during this time could be the moment when people try something new to see how the park and ride works,” she said. “I want to make sure this is a priority in sequencing to make sure the results are ready for MetroRapid to work as quickly as possible when people have that expectation before approving the tax referendum election, so MetroRapid is ready like this works as quickly as possible knowing that some of the construction plans for stops could be difficult. “
Rendered courtesy of Capital Metro.
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