Dramatic downtown Austin drone flight reveals scope of Project Connect's massive underground rail tunnel
A massive underground light rail system running through downtown Austin could be in the city's future. The downtown transit tunnel would separate the light rail lines proposed under Project Connect—Capital Metro's 20-year, $7.1 billion overhaul of the city's transit system—from street traffic in an attempt to make public transit safer and more reliable.
Last month, Austin City Council unanimously approved a measure to add Project Connect to the Nov. 3 ballot, where it will be up to voters to decide whether to approve and fund the plan with an increased city property tax rate.
The proposed tunnel is still being developed, but preliminary maps show its rough pathway is south from 11th and Guadalupe streets to Republic Square; east along 4th Street to the Downtown Station, which is between Trinity and Red River streets; and north along Trinity to 12th Street. The tunnel would also continue south from the Downtown Station to the Mexican-American Cultural Center on Rainey Street, where one of the proposed light rail lines would then progress above ground across Lady Bird Lake to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Capital Metro will determine the estimated specifications and costs of the proposed tunnel during the next phase of engineering later this year. The tunnels coincide with the downtown portions of two proposed light rail lines where "maximum conflicts exist and can be avoided," an agency spokesperson said in an email to Austonia.
While the Austin Chalk—dense, hard, native limestone found beneath the city—could be seen as an obstacle for the tunnel, it is actually not, according to the city spokesperson.
"The Austin chalk and limestone are very good materials for tunneling," she said. "The engineering phase will identify any potential geological issues."
The main barrier remains the cost for such a project.
Council members approved a scaled-down version of the Project Connect plan due to economic uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. An earlier version, approved by council in June, would have included three light rail lines and cost $10 billion.
If approved by voters, the $7.1 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.
More drone footage here:
- Austin City Council will put $7.1 billion Project Connect transit plan ... ›
- Paying for Project Connect—and only Project Connect - austonia ›
- This was the year for Project Connect in Austin. Then came ... ›
- CapMetro cuts $3 billion from Project Connect due to COVID ... ›
- CapMetro targets Austin FC fans about Project Connect stop - austonia ›
- scenic austin from sunrise to sunset - austonia ›
- The light rail guide to Austin's Project Connect transit plan - austonia ›
- scenic Austin nature and skyline from sunrise to sunset - austonia ›
- Project Connect in Austin proposes two light rail lines - austonia ›
- Austin voters ask: How much with Project Connect raise my taxes? - austonia ›
- Austin voters ask: How feasible is Project Connect's $7.1B price tag? - austonia ›
- Austin voters ask: How much has CapMetro spent on Project Connect ads? - austonia ›
- Austin voters ask: How will Project Connect affect transit ridership? - austonia ›
- Austin voters ask: How does the pandemic affect Project Connect? - austonia ›
- Austin voters' guide to Proposition A and Project Connect - austonia ›
- The pros and cons of Austin's $7.1B transit plan Project Connect - austonia ›
- Austin Bergstrom brings live music back to its terminal - austonia ›
- City takes next steps on Project Connect after Prop A passes - austonia ›
- City, Capital Metro form oversight board for Project Connect - austonia ›
- New skyscraper "6x guadalupe" to become second-tallest in Austin - austonia ›
- 5 ways Project Connect is moving forward in Austin - austonia ›
- Complete guide to Rainey Street's bars, food and nightlife - austonia ›
- Downtown Austin to rebound faster than other U.S. metros - austonia ›
- Austin's Project Connect's downtown tunnel changes routes - austonia ›
- Facebook could soon occupy some of Austin's tallest building - austonia ›
- Downtown Austin is a great experience, 78% of residents say - austonia ›
Despite a 2-0 deficit, there was a pot of gold for Austin FC after all as it celebrated its annual Pride Night with rainbows and a 2-2 comeback draw to FC Dallas Saturday night.
After three FC Dallas losses last season, the Dallas derby draw marks the first time Austin FC has tied against its Copa Texas rival. Austin continues to edge over FC Dallas as it sits at 3rd in the MLS West.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the match:
A somber start
Decked out in colorful hues for LBGTQ+ Pride, Verde fans started the match on a somber note as they held up banners to take a stand against gun violence before the match.
As the national anthem began, fans held up banners with the names of each child that was killed in the Uvalde school shooting and a plea to "end gun violence."
The supporters' section was also dotted with Pride flags and a "Bans off Our Bodies" banner in protest of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
FC Dallas earns a 2-0 lead
That sober tone continued onto the pitch. With midfielder Daniel Pereira's absence due to a red card, the Verde and Black lost two goals to FC Dallas by the 70th minute of play.
FC Dallas played it sneaky for the first half of the match, giving Austin FC plenty of room to hold possession as it waited to strike on a Verde error. That mentality proved dangerous for Austin as Dallas' Paul Arriola took advantage of Brad Stuver's deflection to score the first goal of the night in the 57th minute of play.
Dallas struck once more as Brandon Servant pushed past the Verde line to score the second goal of the match.
Austin FC strikes back
But energy quickly returned to Austin's favor thanks to Designated Player Sebastian Driussi, who scooted past several FC Dallas defenders alongside Moussa Djitte to snag an unlikely first goal for Austin.
A full Verde comeback
Austin's subs proved deadly as momentum returned to the home team toward the end of the match. A well-placed cross from Nick Lima—and a diving header from a fresh-legged Danny Hoesen—helped the team secure the draw with a second Verde goal in the 84th minute of play.
Hoesen, who was Austin's first starting striker last season, has now scored two goals with the team after a yearlong injury stuck him on the bench.
- First-ever match at Q2 Stadium as the USWNT takes on Nigeria ... ›
- Shop queer at these 7 LGBTQ-owned businesses all Pride Month long ›
- Austin FC sees 'Fright Night' in 2-1 FC Dallas loss as 'Best in Texas ... ›
Hours following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion, on Friday, about 1,000 people gathered in Republic Square with signs calling for change.
The rally, organized by the group Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights Texas, started at the federal courthouse on Republic Square on Friday at 5 p.m. before the crowd marched to the Texas Capitol. More protests are expected to ensue over the weekend.
People showed up with all types of signs like Mindy Moffa holding up, "Keep your filthy laws off my silky drawers."
Austin joined cities across the country that saw protests for a women's right to an abortion after the ruling.
According to a recent UT poll, 78% of Texas voters support abortion access in most cases.
Sabrina Talghade and Sofia Pellegrini held up signs directed at Texas laws. A Texas trigger law will ban all abortions from the moment of fertilization, starting 30 days after the ruling. When state legislators passed the trigger law last summer, it also passed laws for more protection of firearms, including the right to open carry without a permit.
Lili Enthal of Austin yells as around 1,000 Texans marched to the Texas Capitol.
From the Texas Capitol, Zoe Webb lets her voice be heard against the Supreme Court ruling.
- Most restrictive abortion law in U.S. affects Texas women - austonia ›
- U.S. Supreme Court rules there's no right to abortion, setting up ... ›
- Vela plans resolution to prevent police from investigating abortion ... ›
- Texas' growth may be slowed by abortion ban, poll reports - austonia ›
- 78% of Texas voters think abortion should be allowed in some form ... ›