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Austin Orange Line Workshop

Published: 7/30/2019

Depending on the map you look at, the Orange line is either a 21 mile route from Howard Lane to Slaughter Lane, or–if you ignore the parts marked “future expansion”–an 11 mile route that runs from North Lamar transit center to Stassney. In either case, the midsection of the line runs through the center of town via Lamar, Guadalupe, and South Congress.

According to Capital Metro, the 6.5 mile segment from Koenig to Oltorf is under consideration for grade separation, such as subway or elevated. Should it be? That is the question posed to the community.

Some of the tradeoffs presented are construction cost, right-of-way fit, and travel speed. Cost and political viability were not explicitly under consideration by the transportation engineers.

Sticking with the transit considerations: Guadalupe near 29th is particularly narrow and difficult to fit two dedicated lanes of transit in addition to the existing two lanes of car traffic. Even giving up the middle chicken lane and the parking makes things tight.

How sacred are the lanes of car drivers currently on Guadalupe. Mayor Adler has named them a priority. The transit engineers at the meeting seemed more accepting of talking about trade-offs, whatever those were.

So what about the price of the options offered? Jerry Smiley was hesitant to offer a concrete metric. Site-specific was his favorite term to temper desires for specific numbers.

In general, elevated and CNC are more than surface; tunneling is more expensive than any others. But the scale factor was highly site-specific. Sometimes cut and cover can run into problems that it would have been easier and cheaper to just bore underneath.

There was less discussion around route and station selection. In general the route was deemed sane, and far better than the route offered to (and declined by) residents in 2014. The local 1 bus will probably still run the length of Lamar-Guadalupe. The stops will be more frequent, and the bus will be stuck in traffic the way they are today.