Parts of the City’s Corridor Mobility Project have hit a stand still due to Capital Metro’s Project Connect.
While the Drag is currently ready for construction, mobility and safety improvement planning past 29th Street has been delayed because the Corridor Mobility Program is waiting for Project Connect to complete their pre-scoping of the area. CapMetro is planning on adding a dedicated lane for high capacity public transportation on both sides of Guadalupe.
Austin voters approved $482 million dollars for the Corridor Mobility Program in 2016 to improve safety and mobility along important roadways, or corridors, in the city. Five new corridors, including the North Lamar-Guadalupe corridor, were added with the bond money.
“So those corridor mobility plans, we want to make sure that they are as useful and have as much longevity as possible, especially since they outline some long-term recommendations,” said Mandy McClendon, Corridor Program Office spokesperson. “We don’t want to publish a report, and then they come out with a thing so different that (the two programs don’t) jive with each other.”
McClendon said they expect to revisit the North Lamar-Guadalupe Corridor Mobility Plan in early 2020, once Project Connect has finished scouting out the area.
“North Lamar and Guadalupe actually are a little bit unique in that there are segments of both of those that are receiving some construction funding and are also included in development of a new corridor mobility plan,” McClendon said.
Project Connect, originally adopted in 2013, is CapMetro’s plan to increase the connectivity and affordability of their public transportation systems.
Project Connect’s proposed high-capacity Orange Line would run down the Drag and continue north on Guadalupe Street. As a high-capacity line, the new Orange Line would have some sort of mechanism to protect itself from congestion, such as a dedicated lane or signal priority at traffic lights, according to the Project Connect’s online FAQ. Project Connect program officer Dave Couch said the project has yet to decide whether the Orange Line will utilize buses or light rail.
“The process we will be going through between now and next February is to look at precisely what the alignment is in areas where the existing roadway is narrow, whether we would have to go above ground or below ground, so that we don’t lose any true lanes,” Couch said.
Nutrition senior Bich Nguyen takes the CapMetro bus north every single day from campus to her home. She said the traffic and slowdowns, which typically start around 5:00 p.m., cost her a lot of time. She said she likes the idea of a separate lane exclusively for buses.
“That way you can promote people riding the bus more,” Nguyen said. “Then there might not be as many cars on the road so there will be less traffic.”
Couch said the three different planning organizations — the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, Project Connect and the Corridor Mobility Project — have weekly coordination meetings to ensure each project is on the same page.