Light Rail and Buses and More, Oh My!

A light rail bridge proposed for Lady Bird Lake, still pre-design, is causing controversies about whether adding buses to the bridge would be too dangerous for the other non-automotive modes.

2 minute read

December 13, 2021, 11:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Nathan Bernier reports for KUT about a key question among many in Austin's $7 billion Project Connect public transit expansion plan: Should Capital Metro buses be allowed to cross a light rail bridge planned to cross Lady Bird Lake?

"The question has been a hot topic among close observers of the process and recently emerged at a public design workshop hosted by the Austin Transit Partnership (ATP), the government corporation created to oversee the $7 billion Project Connect transit expansion," writes Bernier. The debate also spilled over to a contentious meeting of the Urban Transportation Commission (UTC), according to Bernier.

UTC Commissioner Samuel Franco is quoted in the article saying that blocking buses from the bridge would perpetuate the racist history of planning Austin (Austin's 1928 Master Plan forced Black residents to the city's East Side, as noted by Bernier in the article).

ATP staffers have claimed that buses would create conflicts on a bridge designed to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and light rail. "In particular, [Peter Mullan, ATP chief of architecture and urban design] said, he wasn't sure how buses could be incorporated in an underground tunnel on the north side of the lake because it's so constrained," reports Bernier.

The decision about whether to include buses on the bridge will have to wait for a competitive bid process for the bridge design. "The ATP is planning to issue a request in January for engineering firms worldwide to compete for the contract to design the bridge," according to Bernier.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021 in KUT

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