TDH: 6/15/11

A first look at urban rail routes

Treacherous crossing
Treacherous crossing (Top photo by Jana Birchum; bottom photo by Lee Nichols)

City Council got a tantalizing glimpse at urban rail routes yesterday – and a reality check on cost – as staff presented four routes with price tags ranging from $250 to $680 million.

The presentation was an attempt to answer some of Mayor Lee Leffingwell's famous "30 questions" that must be addressed before a Nov. 2012 vote.

The most expensive of the four routes combines the three others, connecting north to a Red Line stop, then heading Downtown and crossing Lady Bird Lake before turning onto Riverside and Pleasant Valley.

Although crossing the water is the most expensive option, Mayor Pro Tem & Capital Metro board chair Mike Martinez said that since the whole city would have to pay for rail via bonds (in addition to other funding mechanisms, including federal assistance), the whole city should be able to access it.

Despite the length and specificity, Tuesday was still very much an overview: other issues, such as just what form that federal partnership might take, and who would operate the line, were very much still undefined. And the presentation didn't address a prime concern of several rail watchers: creating dedicated lanes for rail.

The city has posted video of the two hour-plus presentation and discussion. Enjoy!

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