After narrowly escaping an attempt by members of the Texas state Legislature to kill some of its funding, Austin's Project Connect transportation plan is back on track.

The City Council approved the $7.1 billion Project Connect implementation plan at its Thursday meeting. The plan includes a 9.8-mile light-rail line to run from West 38th Street to the intersection of West Oltorf Street and South Congress Avenue, with a jaunt through downtown and Southeast Austin (and almost to the airport) along the way.

The plan now moves to the design phase, which will presumably be lengthy, before construction begins. 

Austin Transit Partnership

An amendment to a bill considered in the Texas House during the Legislature's 88th session sought to derail Austin’s financing for the project with the claim that it required an additional Austin vote — beyond the increase in city property taxes the citizenry approved for the plan in 2020. The bill failed in the state House, ostensibly for procedural reasons.

The council-approved plan was jointly recommended by city staff, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority staff, and the Austin Transit Partnership, which is in charge of Project Connect's implementation. The Project Connect Community Advisory Committee and the Downtown Austin Alliance also supported the plan.

The proposed light rail would take a north-south route on Guadalupe Street with one end starting at West 38th Street, turning on West Third Street, and crossing Lady Bird Lake at Trinity Street. The line would split south of the river, with one section traveling on South Congress Avenue to Oltorf Street and the other east on Riverside Drive to Yellow Jacket Lane near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Current plans show 15 stations along the route.