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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