TRANSPORTATION Austin area’s public transportation plan goes fromvision to actionwithProject Connect vote
BY JACK FLAGLER
Rethinking downtown travel Capital Metro’s Project Connect plan calls for three light-rail stations, which would connect dierent areas of the city to downtown Austin. TRAVEL TIMES TO REPUBLIC SQUARE
Car in rush hour trac
The Capital Metro board of direc- tors voted unanimously June 10 to adopt Project Connect, the plan that would reshape Austin's public trans- portation by adding rail and expand- ing Capital Metro's bus network. The $9.8 billion plan would add three light-rail lines. One, the Orange Line, would run between Tech Ridge in North Austin to Slaughter Lane in South Austin. Another, the Blue Line, would connect downtown Austin to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and the third, the Gold Line, would run between Austin Commu- nity College’s Highland campus and South Austin. The lines outlined in the plan would run through an underground tunnel downtown to take them away from trac, and they would converge in some denser sections of the city to provide service every ve min- utes rather than every 10 minutes, according to Project Connect program manager Dave Couch.
Now that the plan has been adopted, a major next step for local ocials will be working out the nancing. According to a presentation from Jill Jaworski of PFM Financial Advi- sors to the board and City Council on June 10, analysis of other projects around the country support an estimate that 45% of Project Connect would be funded by the federal government—or $4.4 billion of the $9.8 billion project. That leaves $5.4 billion to be funded locally, which would come in part from property taxes. In August, once the city and Capital Metro board determine howmuch revenue is needed and where the city would need to set the tax rate, City Council could call for a tax rate election, which would ask voters for permission to raise property taxes to bring in the revenue needed to fund the program. Those details still need to be
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Tech Ridge Station
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
Republic Square Park 422 Guadalupe St., Austin
SOURCE: CAPITAL METROCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
the median homeowner of a $325,000 property, that would translate to a $358 increase annually. Both the city and Capital Metro will next be going to their annual budget reviews this summer. Austin City Council has until August to call a referendum, and then the decision would go to the voters in November.
REPUBLIC SQUARE PARK
nalized, but on June 10 Jaworski and Greg Canally, Austin’s deputy chief nancial ocer, presented numbers based on an $0.11 increase in the tax rate per $100 of home valuation. For
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