Neighborhood associations weigh in on urban rail debate

AUSTIN -- Be it a moped or a car, driving is the lifestyle for most in Austin.

"My first thought was always, 'Where am I going to park?' and, now it's, 'What's the best route for me?,'" said Meredith Powell, vice chair of the downtown Austin Neighborhood Association or DANA.

That lifestyle of driving has changed for Meredith Powell, who lives downtown and does most of her commuting by foot these days.

If voters approve the $1 billion Proposition 1, that includes 9.5 mile urban rail route in November, the Trinity Street and 7th Street urban rail stop would be less than half a mile from Powell's front door.

"I think the most critical thing to realize about this alignment is that it's the best alignment to move people to and through downtown," Powell said.

Not everyone agrees.

Andrew Clements with Political Action Committee 'Our Rail' supports rail, just not the proposed route.

"It's in my own best interest to support it now, but I'm concerned enough to think that the first investment should be made on Guadalupe and North Lamar," Clements said.

The current proposed route would start on Grove Road near East Riverside Drive. Riders would travel north on Trinity, stopping at the Convention Center, the Capitol and three times at UT. They would continue up Red River Street and Airport Boulevard, ending at Austin Community College's Highland Campus.

"It's inconvenient to the point people won't use it," said Matthew Armstrong, president of the Crestview Neighborhood Association.

The route stops just short and to the southeast of Armstrong's Crestview neighborhood, which is serviced by MetroRail and MetroRapid.

"It presents a challenge for finally getting rail to actually serve our neighborhoods maybe in the future," Armstrong said,

A challenge from any side, one that will be debated until and probably after the Nov. 4 election.


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