Calling Project Connect “a pivotal cog in thinking, planning, strategizing and developing solutions to assist the greater Austin area with multi-modal solutions for our mobility woes,” the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) International – Heart of Texas Chapter presented Project Connect with the 2013 Innovative Transportation Solutions Award at its 10th Annual Transportation Gala and Scholarship Fundraiser on April 4.
The award recognizes the creative work Project Connect is undertaking to improve the quality of life for Central Texas residents. Other nominees included Carma, the city of Austin’s Bicycle Program and Commute Solutions. Project Connect is now in the running for the international Innovative Transportation Solutions Award at the WTS International annual conference in May in Portland, Ore.
Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson accepted the award on behalf of the Project Connect partnership and called the honor humbling. “It’s gratifying for Project Connect to be selected from a pool of so many deserving nominees,” Watson said. “This award shows the work that Project Connect is doing is important and will have a profound impact on the Austin area and the people who call Central Texas home.”
Project Connect is the high-capacity transit vision for Central Texas that serves as the umbrella that all high-capacity transit projects in Central Texas have been developed under. Those projects include regional rail, bus rapid transit, urban rail, managed lanes and other high-capacity modes.
Adding more detail to the system level plan is a pair of corridor studies currently underway. Those studies encompass the North Corridor, which is focused on studying the fast-growing areas of North Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, Hutto, Pflugerville and others. The second study is Central Corridor, which is studying transit options in the heartbeat of Central Texas, Central Austin. Those options include the potential for urban rail and/or the expansion of bus rapid transit within the city of Austin and the neighboring suburbs.
Several elements of the Project Connect vision are already online, including:
- MetroRail (Red Line), a 32-mile, nine station commuter rail line extending from downtown Austin to the suburban city of Leander.
- MetroRapid, Central Texas’ first Bus Rapid Transit line. The MetroRapid 801 line launched in late January and the second, MetroRapid 803, is set to begin service later this year.
A third piece of the system is under development with the construction of express lanes on MoPac. Capital Metro vehicles will have free access to these tolled lanes to greatly reduce travel times and improve reliability for commuter services that use this heavily congested roadway when construction is completed.