All Aboard the Rails With Trails Plan
If MetroRail ever arrives, trails could follow
Assuming Capital Metro ever actually gets its MetroRail commuter train up and running, the transit agency intends the Red Line route to be truly multimodal with its Rails With Trails project: a dedicated bike and pedestrian pathway running mostly alongside the tracks, although physical constraints will occasionally force bike riders onto nearby streets.
The map shown here, from a 2007 feasibility study, outlines the project all the way from Downtown to Leander, divided into 11 segments. The study, a partnership between Cap Metro and area stakeholders, prioritized the segments according to the ease with which they could be built. Beginning sometime this year (hopefully), construction should begin on segment 3, running from the Highland Mall station through the Crestview neighborhood to Morrow Street.
Before the proposals can be enacted, they will have to be discussed at a public hearing before a meeting of the Capital Metro board of directors, which has yet to be scheduled. The changes will likely be voted on at the board's Sept. 28 meeting.
Sustainable Neighborhoods, a North Central Austin group affiliated with the Allandale, Crestview, Highland, North Shoal Creek and Wooten neighborhood associations, endorsed Rails With Trails as the project of the year. In a press release, Steven Zettner, one of Sustainable Neighborhoods' co-founders, called the project a "no brainer."
"This project, when implemented, will provide both local and long-range alternatives to driving," he said. "It will encourage local residents to shop at Crestview Station, thereby improving the district's vitality and resiliency to urban decline." Crestview Station – in the middle of segment 3 – is a multi-use, transit-oriented development currently being built around Capital Metro's rail stop on the site of the former Huntsman Chemical facility at Airport and North Lamar.