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Austin Could Approve Urban Rail Plan Thursday
Updated: Thursday, June 26 2014, 06:20 AM CDT
On Thursday Austin City Council is expected to decide whether to give the OK to the proposed urban rail plan. It stretches 9.5 miles from ACC Highland through UT into downtown, over Lady Bird Lake, and down East Riverside Drive.
Imagine being able to get downtown in 17 minutes from Highland Mall and 11 minutes from Southeast Austin during the height if rush hour. Rail planners say its possible if this plan gets the green light.
The full route would be up and running by 2022. Right now it's projected to cost nearly $1.4 billion. The city is hoping the federal government will help cover half of that, with Austin picking up the rest. Running the rail is expected to cost $22 million the first year.
Not everyone is on board with the plan. Some critics want the rail to go down Guadalupe and North Lamar or out to the airport instead. Others don't believe the current plan makes financial sense.
"We should go back to the drawing board and this corridor," said Niran Babalo of Austinites for Urban Rail Action. "We should do buses and dedicated lanes, which would be cheaper to operate to move the same amount of people."
City officials say this new rail line could eventually move 10,000 cars off the road. If council approves the plan, Austin voters will have the final say in November.