Should Be Vote on Rail

RECEIVED Tue., March 5, 2013

Dear Editor:
    Regarding "Spring Train-ing: Warm-up for another urban rail campaign" (News, Feb. 22): The baseball metaphor found in this article needs to be carried even further, in that voters haven't had the chance to "step up to the plate" (i.e., participate in a required public urban rail vote) since 2000. Political promises to have an urban rail vote have been broken (most notably by Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who somehow apparently is the sole decider on when a plan for urban rail is ready to take to the voters) – but even more damning, rail planners haven’t been able, in the 12 years since the 2000 referendum, to arrive at an urban rail proposal deemed ready to go before the voters. Twelve years! (And, actually, urban rail was first presented to the Austin City Council in 1973 – and approved for further study – so in reality there have been 40 years to plan!) I am one of those “Transit advocates continu[ing] to push for trains, but … disagree[ing] on the proposed routes” mentioned in the article. A number of prominent transit advocates question the current initial proposed route of urban rail from Downtown to Mueller and wonder why millions of dollars were spent on a joint federal/city study prior to the 2000 vote that determined the best route for an urban rail line was on North Lamar and Guadalupe (which has almost twice as much projected ridership as the current proposed route to Mueller). This one big route question – and others – has been asked by advocates and citizens in the most recent federal/city Environmental Impact Statement study … and has gone unanswered. As yet another urban rail “campaign” gears up for this spring/summer, will this question and others be answered? Or, to use another metaphor, will they be “steamrolled?”
Andrew Clements
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