back on the rails?

New Austin light-rail project could remove cars from The Drag

New Austin light-rail project could remove cars from The Drag

Project Connect orange line rendering
One potential design could remove car traffic entirely from The Drag. Courtesy of Project Connect via KVUE

KVUE — The Austin Transit Partnership, created to act on behalf of Capital Metro and the City of Austin, held two workshops on Wednesday, December 8 for the public to share their input on a light-rail line coming to The Drag in the future.

The light rail would run through the section of Guadalupe Street that divides the University of Texas from West Campus. It will be part of the Orange Line, a 20-mile light-rail line that would operate along North Lamar Boulevard and Congress Avenue from the Tech Ridge park-and-ride at Howard Lane south to Slaughter Lane.

The Orange Line is part of Project Connect, a massive voter-approved transit plan for the city of Austin. CapMetro wants input from University of Texas students, staff, and faculty, along with community members.

Two different potential designs were presented at the workshop: an option including the rail and a traffic lane in each direction, and another including the light rail and no traffic lanes.

Option A includes the light rail and one bus/traffic lane in each direction. This layout would mean narrower sidewalks and no separated bike lanes. The traffic lanes could create slowdowns for all traffic in the area, according to the information sheet provided. Bus-to-rail transfers are more direct in this option.

Option B features a transit mall with no traffic lanes or dedicated bus lanes. However, it may be possible for buses to share the light rail guideway. Bus-to-rail transfers with this option may be less direct.

One in-person workshop was held at the William C. Powers Student Activity Center on the UT campus on Wednesday afternoon, December 8. A second workshop was held in a virtual format the same evening at 5:30 pm.

According to the Project Connect website, the Orange Line was identified as one of the dedicated-pathway, high-capacity transit corridors in the project. 

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