"...6, the Central Corridor Advisory Group, appointed by Mayor Lee Leffingwell to advise city officials on the development of urban rail, approved Project Connect's sub-corridor recommendations of East Riverside and Highland by a vote of 14-1. The sole negative vote was that of Julie Montgomery, senior program coordinator for the Center for Health and Social Policy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and an executive committee member of Austinites for Urban Rail Action..."
"...On Monday, Mayor Will Wynn shared with the Chronicle his plans to call for a major November 2008 voter referendum for a new local rail transit system – a call-to-action to be issued Thursday at his keynote State of Downtown Address at the Downtown Austin Alliance annual luncheon. As Wynn and fellow proponent Brewster McCracken envision the modern ultra-light-rail streetcar system, its route would take riders Downtown, to multiple Central Austin locations (such as Mueller and Zilker Park), serve the UT and state office buildings, and connect major work-live-play nodes..."
"...The details of the $400 million in proposed road projects are still to be confirmed by Council action, but the SMP describes projects primarily along I-35, as well as corridor studies elsewhere. For a summary of those projects, see "Council on Transportation," Aug..."
"...in the Austin Convention Center. The Austin City Council is expected to take action on the recommendation during the June 26 regularly scheduled Council meeting, and the Capital Metro Board of Directors is expected to vote on the recommendation on June 23.'..."
"...AGA (not yet a formal political action committee) has scheduled a launch party for Wednesday, April 16 at Mettle (507 Calles St.). While the group’s early statements promote general improvement of “all transportation options,” its logo and vision statement are rail-centric: “Transportation is inextricably tied to many other concerns in our city: affordability, economic development, efficient use of financial and natural resources - by failing to improve how we get around Austin we are failing to address a myriad of issues..."
"...Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who, as a policymaker, is allowed to promote the project, has said that the push for support will kick off more formally in August. As we've previously reported ("November Calling: PACs Form on Rail Vote," April 8), some organizations – e.g., Austin Gets Around and the political action committee Let's Go Austin – have formed that will likely support the proposal, and the Downtown Austin Alliance and Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association have already done so, with the Chamber of Commerce yet to weigh in...."
"...Laura Morrison says "Don't blame me for the push-back," Randi Shade says, "It'll be better in a year," and explains the bond fund scenario. All reactions from city council members to Mayor Lee Leffingwell's "No 2010 Rail Vote" announcement, more below...."
"...Fairfield was poised to redevelop the Town Lake Hyatt by adding two towers. "They wanted an increase in entitlement, and some of my neighbors' first reaction was 'no way,'" she recalls..."
"...Initial reaction to the proposal by local transit advocates was mixed. Over the weekend, Lonny Stern of the Alliance for Public Transportation posted a lengthy analysis of the Team’s proposal, suggesting that most local media – settling on the total price tag for their headlines – had “buried the lede.” Stern continued: “The real news from CCAG’s May 2 report is that the team selected an alignment from Grove Blvd to Highland Mall that includes: 1) a new bridge over Lady Bird Lake, 2) a tunnel at the Hancock Center, and 3) a price tag of $1.38 billion 4) to be funded 50% by federal funds and 50% by a November bond election..."
"...Yet even while official momentum builds for a November bond vote, various advocacy groups are also organizing to oppose the project, at least as currently designed. Transit advocacy groups – Austinites for Urban Rail Action and Our Rail PAC, among others – have been unhappy with the "Highland" Central Corridor plan from the beginning, and Our Rail has just announced a "coalition" with neighborhood groups along the corridor to oppose the Project Connect plan, in favor of an alignment along Guadalupe and North Lamar..."
"...Not all observers were equally enthusiastic. A newly formed advocacy group called Austinites for Soccer Rail Action (AUSRA) released a statement saying that the group firmly believes in getting international football established in Austin as soon as possible – and that it be served exclusively by mass transit..."
"...Newsdesk was righteously Tweeted this morning by members of Austinites for Urban Rail Action, after we posted a summation of reactions to the latest urban rail proposal by the Project Connect Study Team. AURA wants it known they are ‘not now and have never been’ advocates of ‘Lamar/Guadalupe’ only for Austin’s initial urban rail route...."
"...American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Austin Area Sierra Club (AASC), Austin Central Labor Council (ACLC), Austin Environmental Democrats (AED), Austin Fire Association (AFA), Austin Neighborhoods Council (ANC), Austin Police Association (APA), Austin Progressive Coalition (APC), Austin/Travis County EMS Employee Association (ATCEMSEA), Austin Tejano Democrats (ATD), Austin Young Democrats (AYD), Austinites for Urban Rail Action (AURA), Black Austin Democrats (BAD), Capital Area Progressive Democrats (CAPD), Central Austin Democrats (CAD), Clean Water Action (CWA), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), Liberal Austin Democrats (LAD), North by Northwest Democrats (NXNWD), South Austin Democrats (SAD), Texas Alliance for Retired Americans (TARA), Travis County Democratic Party (TCDP), University Democrats (UD), West Austin Democrats (WAD), Workers Defense Action Fund (WDAF)..."
"...Initial reaction to the proposal by local transit advocates was mixed. Over the weekend, Lonny Stern of the Alliance for Public Transportation posted a lengthy analysis of the team's proposal, suggesting that most local media – settling on the total price tag for their headlines – had "buried the lede." Stern continued: "The real news from CCAG's May 2 report is that the team selected an alignment from Grove Boulevard to Highland Mall that includes:..."
"...Although rail remains the preferred option, planners continue to consider Bus Rapid Transit. Julie Montgomery, who serves on CCAG and is also on the executive committee of Austinites for Urban Rail Action, says that questions remain over the mode, how to cross Lady Bird Lake, and how to prioritize the different corridor phases (i.e., East Riverside vs..."
"...Nevertheless, the devil remains in the multimodal details. We can expect legions of road warriors to reflexively oppose whatever Project Connect plan is finally placed on the ballot, but the curious preamble this time around is that a hard core of mass transit advocates – mostly associated with the small but vociferous Austinites for Urban Rail Action – has begun insisting that unless the routes are drawn as they demand (i.e., including the much-debated "Lamar/Guadalupe Corridor") they will oppose the bond proposition..."
"...Mike Dahmus, former member of the Urban Transportation Commission and supporter of Austinites for Urban Rail Action, also criticized the Highland decision. "Everybody that looks at Austin and that knows anything about transit knows that [Lamar and Guadalupe is] where you put the trains if you want them to be a success, which is what you need for your first line..."
"...Robert Anderson doesn't see those arguments as a distraction. He sees them as different approaches to the same problem..."
"...Riley's proposal, which borrows a page from a Portland, Ore., code change, quickly gained support from aspiring ADU homeowners – like Julie Montgomery, who testified she gave up trying to build one because of city obstacles – as well as renters, and members of AURA (formerly Austinites for Urban Rail Action), a grassroots group that has broadened its activism beyond rail to include land use and affordability issues...."
"...But if we're judging the bond by its financial impact, its effect on Austin's political action committee economy has been a shot in the arm, as it has for local outrage instigators, acronym-minters, and the cottage industry called Carole Keeton Strayhorn. As the Hustle blogged this week (austinchronicle.com/hustle), newly filed PACs include Engineers Affirming Sustainable Transportation, with Canyon Creek MUD-slinger and sometime political candidate Don Zimmerman as campaign treasurer, as appointed by professional public transpo opponent Jim Skaggs..."