Saturday, March 5, 2011

Transportation: Austin - Rail studies costing city millions, before public vote

by Ben Wear, Austin American Statesman

Austinites won't get their say on the city's $1.3 billion urban rail plan until at least November of next year, when city leaders plan to ask permission to borrow at least $200 million to build a first phase.
Even so, the City Council this week will consider approving $1.2 million in spending related to the proposed 16.5-mile light-rail or streetcar system — $700,000 for a federally required environmental study and $500,000 for a joint project with Capital Metro to update the area's transit plan and a key transportation modeling program.
That spending would come on top of about $2.6 million already authorized for various consultant studies (about $1.6 million of it already spent). And officials anticipate authorizing another $300,000 later for public meetings and other work related to the environmental study. All told, the city expects to spend about $4.1 million on the project before seeking voters' approval to proceed with it.
That doesn't mean this up-front spending is wrongheaded, however, said Robert Spillar, director of the city's Transportation Department. The various studies, he said, are answering questions important to voters when considering such a huge investment and invasive construction project.
"The citizens of Austin are pretty sophisticated," Spillar said. "They want to know what the attributes of the project are, what the environmental impacts are, how you're funding it, et cetera, et cetera. So this is just all part of that due diligence." 

Austin MetroRail Car, by BruceTurner
Austin MetroRail car, by Mr. Wright
more posts about rail transportation in the US:

A Very San Franciscan Transit Center

A new direction for the BART Board of Directors: The choice is ours


No comments:

Post a Comment