Capital Metro is proposing to double-track three segments of the Red Line in Northwest Austin so it can add a fifth car to its operational fleet and provide more frequent train service.
Doug Allen, executive vice president and chief development officer for Capital Metro, said he expects to know in June whether the transit agency was approved for a $10.3 million grant from the federal government given to transportation projects that generate economic recovery.
To get the grant, Capital Metro pledged $1 million and the City of Austin pledged $3.6 million to help fund the $11.8 million project. They would also contribute $502,800 worth of in-kind services, a common funding mechanism.
With the money, the agency would also:
- upgrade signals at 24 intersections to reduce automobile wait time while trains are passing for $1.1 million,
- extend the Lance Armstrong Bikeway in downtown Austin by a half mile for $1 million,
- and redesign the underpass at Fourth Street and I-35 for $1.5 million.
Allen said the proposed double-tracked segments are part of the long-term plan for the commuter line, which began operations in 2010. About 2,000 people board the Red Line each day.
“We are pretty much at capacity for the peak period. We do have people that are standing,” Allen said.
In addition to boosting capacity, an additional train would increase train frequency to every 24–27 minutes from every 34 minutes now.
If the grant is approved, construction could begin immediately, and the bulk of the work on the tracks would take place between October 2012 and March 2013. The agency said the projects would create approximately 200 jobs in the year from the grant award.
If the grant is not approved, Allen said he did not see Capital Metro paying for the tracks itself in the near term.
“We will continue to look at ways to fund that, but if we can’t, we will continue to run the service that we are running now,” he said.