Austin Voters Give Project Connect the Go-Ahead

Austin, Texas: Project Connect, which includes a new rail system and a downtown transit tunnel to separate rail and vehicle traffic, was approved 58% to 42% by voters on the 3 November ballot.

The transit expansion project, which includes non-rail components, will cost an estimated 7.1 billion USD, which will come from public funds (federal and local).

A Stadler GTW diesel-electric light rail vehicle on Austin's Red Line
A Stadler GTW diesel-electric light rail vehicle on Austin’s Red Line

Project Connect Rail System

On 3 November voters approved the ‘initial investment’, which comprises 27 miles of new railway line with 31 stations.

  • The Orange Line is a planned light rail line that will provide a north-south connection in Austin. Under the initial investment, work will begin at North Lamar and U.S. 183 and extend to Stassney Lane
  • The North Lamar terminus is to be extended to Tech Ridge in the future
  • The Stassney Lane terminus is to be extended to Slaughter in the future
  • Length: 20 miles
  • Estimated opening date: 2028
  • The Blue Line is a planned light rail line that will serve the airport
  • It will also have North Lamar at one of its termini and then share its line to downtown Austin with the Orange Line (up to Republic Square) before branching off to the airport
  • Estimated opening date: 2028
  • The Green Line will be a new commuter rail service to connect downtown Austin with East Austin’s Colony Park
  • Planned opening: 2033
  • The existing Red Line commuter rail service will be expanded
  • The current rolling stock on the system is manufactured by Stadler (GTW diesel-electric railcars)
  • There are to be new stations and an increase in the number of services
  • If Project Connect is built in full, the plan is to electrify the Red Line and extend platforms to allow for longer trains

Downtown Transit Tunnel

The light rail network is to be underground in the downtown area to make it safer and punctual. The proposed length of the tunnel is 1.6 miles and would be used by the orange and blue lines. The plans are for there to be underground stations of varying sizes, with the biggest one being Republic Square, which will be built over three levels. All the underground stations will be given platform screen doors.


In Year 1, the preliminary engineering for the blue and oranges lines will take place, along with the final designs and procurement for the red line expansion. Years 2 and 3 will see the final designs and procurement taking place for the orange and blue lines, while the red line expansion will be built and commissioned in year 2. The construction and commissioning for the orange and blue lines will take place in years 4–8. Lastly, the preliminary engineering for the green line will begin in year 8, with another year for the final design and procurement and years 10–13 set aside for construction and commissioning.

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