As reported on Friday by Jack Craver at the Austin Monitor
, City Council approved two items related to the new downtown rail station, both supported by the Downtown Austin Alliance. The first approves funding to help Capital Metro build the new station and adjoining public plaza and the second will allow East Fifth Street to be turned into a two-way street.
The new Downtown Station will make it possible for Capital Metro to maximize federal funding and double the frequency and capacity of the Red Line, Austin’s only existing rail transit line. The new station will result in the closing of two blocks of 4th Street to auto traffic. Austin Transportation Department’s study of area traffic shows that turning 5th Street to two-way will more than accommodate the loss of capacity on 4th. This is important for daily peak traffic and for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, when APD closes E. 6th Street to cars.
The Downtown Station is an integral component of our transit system and will become an even more critical piece of infrastructure for bringing employees in and out of downtown. By 2018, the Red Line will operate on 15-minute headways and its capacity will have doubled from 400 people to 800 people in the peak rush hour.
The existing station was always designed to be a temporary facility which Capital Metro planned to upgrade into a permanent facility. The new station and plaza will add to the vibrancy of the area and create a better experience for transit users, thereby encouraging increased transit ridership.