Light Speed

First look at designs for Austin light rail from Lady Bird Lake into downtown

Designs revealed for Austin light rail from Lady Bird Lake to downtown

KVUE — Design concepts released April 26 by the Project Connect team provide a first glimpse at what Austin's Blue Line light rail could look like crossing Lady Bird Lake and entering the downtown Austin transit tunnel.

Two design options were presented to the community during a virtual public workshop. One option, the cheaper one, is for a light rail and shared-use path. The more expensive option is for a light rail, a shared-use path, and a bus path. This bus path would run next to the light rail path, but when it gets to the north side of Lady Bird Lake, it would look more like a "double-decker" bridge.

“We figured out a way to do it that maintains connectivity on the trail and provides the different, additional facility for buses and doesn't impair the operations of the light rail," said Peter Mullan, chief of architecture and urban design for the Austin Transit Partnership. "So, it works. And so that, to me, is great because we have two legitimate workable options.”

Earlier this month, updated cost estimates for parts of Project Connect nearly doubled the initial amount presented to the community before voters approved the transit plan during the November 2020 election.

Initially, the two light rail lines and underground tunnel as part of Project Connect were expected to cost $5.8 billion. But new cost projections add $4.5 billion, bringing the total to $10.3 billion due to real estate, inflation and supply chain issues, and changes to the scope of the projects, the report said.


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Project Connect Light Rail Rendering tunnel
One opton for the Blue Line light rail.  Courtesy rendering