On Nov. 5, voters in Austin, Texas, approved the $7.1 billion Project Connect transportation proposal. This proposal, which includes a 1.6-mile tunnel in the city’s downtown area, includes using property tax revenue to fund the project, with 45% coming from federal sources. The measure passed by a margin of 58-41.
Project Connect is to include:
- A new rail system would serve North and South Austin, the airport, downtown and Colony Park.
- A transit tunnel downtown would separate rail from traffic to improve on-time performance.
- Expanded bus service with an all-electric bus fleet, new routes and on-demand circulators within certain neighborhoods.
- Nine new Park & Rides throughout the region with improved connections and new amenities.
The Downtown Transit Tunnel will separate proposed light rail service from street traffic, enabling faster, safer and more reliable travel through downtown. The new rail system will connect at underground stations at Republic Square and other downtown locations. These stations are planned to include such amenities as retail, restaurants, a transit store and service center.
The tunnel’s stations will provide connections to the new rail system and expanded bus service. In addition to a transitway, the stations will provide a new public space for transit customers and the larger community. The stations will be climate-controlled and are planned to include features such as public art installations, a performance venue for live music, shops, coffee shops, restaurants, free Wi-Fi access, comfortable seating, public restrooms and security cameras. Agents at the CapMetro Transit Store will serve customers with transit information and sell tickets for all services.
The City of Austin is one of multiple taxing entities to which property owners pay property taxes annually. With the approval of Proposition A, 8.75 cents of the City’s property tax rate revenue will be dedicated to the Austin Transit Partnership to fund implementation of Project Connect. Now approved by voters, the Project Connect portion of the City’s property tax rate will become part of the City’s property tax rate each year.
The initial investment includes 27 miles of rail service and 31 stations, including the downtown tunnel and stations.