Austin — Urban Rail Planning Gets Serious
Rail Transit Online, March 2011
On Feb. 17 Austin City Council voted to spend $700,000 on an environmental impact study for a proposed 16.5-mi. (26.5 km) light rail or streetcar system linking East Austin, the University of Texas and the airport with downtown.
Approximately $1.6 million has already been spent analyzing several urban rail plans, but the current scheme appears to have the best chance of getting built. If this study and a future community outreach effort generate enough support, the council could place a
$200-million bond issue on the November 2012 ballot seeking voter approval to build the first segment.
"The citizens of Austin are pretty sophisticated," Robert Spillar, director of Austin's transportation department, told the American-Statesman. "They want to know what the attributes of the project are, what the environmental impacts are, how you're funding it, etc., etc. So this is just all part of that due diligence." The cost of the urban rail plan is tentatively estimated at $1.3 billion.