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Will you choo-choo-choose the Austin Urban Rail Project?

2011 April 28

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but Austin traffic has been lovely lately. At 4:30 everyday, streets are flooded with a brilliant fleet of autos. The sounds of horns and motors soothe your spirit with their melodies. To the left, to the right, behind and in front, you’re not alone! And everyone is peacefully happy together. No anger. The world is still and just as it should be.

Austin Traffic; Photo by:

Just Kidding!

Ok, ok so our traffic situation is actually, quite unremarkable. It’s enough to drive you mad. So what’s the plan? The Urban Rail Project!


Austin is proposing to install a streetcar-ish rail on existing streets, connecting the Mueller, central Biz district, Capitol, Airport, and UT through all kinds of land which may or may not affect you and the environment in a positive way.

What about South Austin?

This proposed plan will:

  • cover 16.5 miles, connects five urban areas
  • cost $1.3 billion to construct
  • run on current roadways or in right of way lanes
  • be constructed over a variety of land including parks and recreation, civic, residential and commercial.

[Check out Downtown Austin Blog, M1EK's Bake-sale of Bile, or Austin Contrarian for discussion of Austin Urban Rail Project]

Will this railway displace cars and bikers? Considering the epic ineffectiveness of the MetroRail, I’ve gotta say, we could have a disaster on our hands. If this new rail doesn’t benefit those who would trade in their car for a rail ride, then what will the city do when/if traffic congestion worsens exponentially?

That’s where you come in. YOU, dear citizen will be voting on this next year. Tell the city what you think!

How beneficial do you think this plan will be in tackling traffic congestion?

Will it discourage driving?

Will it increase biking?

Will it invade residential areas and parks OR connect them?

How will it affect the environment?

Do you think it should connect South Austin?

Let’s talk about it kids! Tell the city what you think! Tomorrow, Friday, April 29th, is the last day to weigh in!!

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. April 28, 2011

    See my blog and The Austin Contrarian for lots of coverage on this.

  2. Brad permalink
    April 28, 2011

    Mike basically beat me to it, but the plan hinges on more reserved guideway in the city center/downtown area. Without it, it will be a waste of money.

  3. May 1, 2011

    Encourage dense affordable housing for the other 95% of us instead of luxury lofts in central city, create dedicated bus lanes and platform style boarding stations (and STOP cutting bus funding), and bring a BIXI style bike share system to town so we can all avoid the laughing stock that will be Metro Rail 2.0. There’s no silver bullet in solving urban transportation issues but rather an ecology of solutions. Oh, and put a damn sidewalk on the north side of 5th st east of Whole Foods!

    • Brad permalink
      May 3, 2011

      Those are all good ideas, but a good urban rail system integrated with those ideas can be a big help as well. It all costs money, and there’ not doubt that we have to priortize the best we can, but i think if the Urban Rail is down right it will be really good for the city. If it’s done half-assed like the Red Line then it will be a complete waste of money.

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