Plans for Austin’s Light Rail Project Significantly Reduced
In November 2020, Austin voters approved the largest mass transit investment in Austin’s history with a permanent tax increase to fund new rail lines, downtown subways, and upgrades to CapMetro’s bus service.
On March 21, the Austin Transit Partnership (ATP), which oversees the implementation of Project Connect, announced it was significantly scaling back plans for the initial phase of the new light rail system, citing costs that had ballooned from $5.8 billion to $10.3 billion. ATP presented five alternative designs to the public, each costing below $5 billion and covering less than half of the 28-mile service area included in the original plan. None of the alternative designs include a downtown subway system, and only one of the options includesa light rail to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Currently seeking community input, ATP staff plans to recommend one of the alternatives in June at a joint meeting of the Austin City Council, the ATP board, and the CapMetro board.
Too early to tell how the proposed plans will impact property owners
The scaled-back alternatives mean fewer property owners are likely to be impacted by the first phase of Project Connect, but it’s too early to know how many properties will be impacted. The eminent domain process isn’t expected to begin for at least another year.
Below are the five alternative plans that are expected to be completed by the 2030s.