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(Capital Metro)

Rendering, Project Connect station

The Austin City Council on Friday unanimously approved a measure to add to the November ballot the massive $7.1B "Project Connect," a 20-year overhaul of Austin's transit system that would include a new light rail and "rapid bus" lines.

The council plans to add it to the ballot in a formal order next week, members said. Then it's up to voters to decide whether to approve it.


Because of technical difficulties, Friday's virtual meeting, in which the council also created a governing body for implementing the plan should it pass, was not streamed online. But council members shared their news on Twitter in the wake of their vote.


Council members chose a scaled-down version of the plan due to economic uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. An earlier version, approved by council in June, would have cost $10 billion.

Capital Metro proposed $3 billion in cuts last month, including the elimination of a light-rail line running from Austin Community College Highland to downtown and the shortening of another, which would span North Lamar and South Congress.

If approved by voters, the $7 billion plan will increase the city property tax rate by 8.5 cents. For the median homeowner, this means their annual property tax bill will be about $276 higher.

In addition to taxpayer dollars, CapMetro will still need to seek an additional $3.15 billion in funding - 45% of the total budget - from the federal government.

Along with deciding which version they will add to November's ballot next week, council members and the CapMetro board also voted to create a governing body called the Austin Transportation Partnership that will oversee the implementation of the plan.

The ATP board will include representatives from City Council and the Capital Metro board as well as three community experts.

This story has been updated; Project Connect will be funded through a tax rate election, not a bond.

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