Project Connect is starting to take shape, Capitol Metro announced, and officially beginning with the scoping phase that includes an environmental report that is set to go on from now to 2022. Although that may seem like a long process, the overall project is starting a timeline of 13 years before it is complete.
During meetings to discuss the orange and blue light rail lines of Project Connect, a complete overhaul of the city's public transit system, Project Connect officials detailed the two lines' futures over the next nine years, when they expect a large part of the project to be complete.
Right now, the project teams for the orange and blue lines are entering the environmental impact scoping phase, which they plan to last a year, followed by two years of final design planning and then five years of construction and testing.
The orange line will connect North and South Austin, starting at Tech Ridge, with 22 stops along the way until it hits Slaughter Lane. There will be service every 10-15 minutes, according to officials.
The proposed orange line will reach the following stops:
- Tech Ridge (Park & Ride)
- North Lamar International District
- The Triangle
- UT campus
- Republic Square
- Auditorium Shores
- South Congress
- Southpark Meadows (Park & Ride)
As for the new blue line, service will cover Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to Republic Square park downtown with a proposed 11 stops along the way. Just like the orange line, there will be service every 10-15 minutes.
The proposed blue line will reach the following stops:
- Travis Heights
- Austin Convention Center
- AustinDell Seton Medical district
- UT campus
The blue line will follow the same timeline as the orange line and is expected to be complete in nine years.
Before the project moves any further, an environmental impact statement must be developed. The EIS is part of the National Environmental Policy Act and is a crucial step to beginning new developments because it scopes the surrounding area and helps engineer better ways for the project to fit into the community.
As part of the scoping period, AECOM's Orange Line project manager Jerry Smiley said they will be asking for public feedback regularly for the next several years.
Since construction of the new lines will begin at different times, some lines may be done before then, like the red line, which starts construction this year.
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Samsung might soon be making more moves in the Austin metro.
The tech giant, which made waves as it announced plans to build a $17 billion chip plant in Taylor in late 2021, might be looking to expand in the Northeast Austin area, according to an Austin Business Journal report.
ABJ said the South Korean company is seeking more tax breaks from nearby Taylor and Manor school districts. The company filed documents requesting Chapter 313 incentives related to the breaks Saturday, and ABJ said each district will review the requests separately on Tuesday.
"While we do not have specific plans to build at this time, the Chapter 313 application process is part of our long-term planning to evaluate the viability of potentially building additional fabrication plants in the U.S.," Samsung Austin Semiconductor LLC.'s director of communications, Michele Glaze, told the ABJ.
But Samsung has made headlines for more than just the $17 billion plant: In early 2022, the company caught heat for two separate spills of millions of gallons of wastewater into tributaries near its semiconductor plant.
While no expansion is promised, ABJ speculates that expansions could occur at the 1,200 acre planned Taylor factory or near the chipmaking factory on Austin's East Parmer Lane. Both expansions could bring even more revenue and job opportunities to Samsung's Texas home.
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A first minute error gave Austin FC an early setback, but with the help of two red cards and two second-half goals, the Verde and Black still forced a last-minute tie in a messy home battle against Orlando City SC Sunday night.
With the 2-2 draw, Austin dropped from No. 1 in the MLS West conference but still earned a point in the standings thanks to a penalty kick goal from Sebastian Driussi and a breakthrough shot from striker Moussa Djitte, who scored his first goal with the club in the final minute of play.
Here are the top three takeaways from the match:
A fateful mistake
Just days after his highlight reel-worthy LAFC performance, Austin keeper Brad Stuver scratched heads as he gave away a goal seconds into the game. Stuver's fateful pass went straight to Orlando's Junior Urco, who was already in the box and tapped a quick pass to Ercan Kara to score the first goal of the match.
The mistake forced Austin to chase a tie for the rest of the match, especially as center back Ruben Gabrielsen benched himself in the 20th minute. The team later said Gabrielsen has come down with something similar to a stomach bug.
Orlando would score two minutes later, and Austin FC left the first half looking like the opposite of its "Best in the MLS" self from just days prior.
The two red cards
By the 60th minute of the match, however, the tides had turned. Orlando's Rodrigo Schlegel, who had already racked up a yellow card on a handball, was ousted from the game two minutes later for yet another handball, this time in the penalty box.
Austin's main man Sebastian Driussi took the kick and sent it in for his eighth goal of the season to make it 2-1.
And just over five minutes later, Orlando's Cesar Araujo was the second man in purple kicked out of the match after he kicked Alex Ring on a slide tackle near the box. Austin was left with just over 20 minutes, and just nine opponents left, to try and tie it up.
The 'Mouss' is loose!
As the whistle blew and regulation time ran out, Orlando seemed to have won the match. The team had withstood many, many close calls—including two shots off the post from Austin FC's Diego Fagundez and Maxi Urruti—as Austin FC flooded the box with 22 cracks at a goal.
But thanks to the chaotic nature of the game, Austin FC was given nine extra minutes to tie it up. Moussa Djitte was the one who finally broke through five minutes into stoppage time, earning his first goal in Verde to put a 2-2 cap on the wild home match.
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