Urban Rail public comment period to begin again

AUSTIN -- Several local groups who disagree with the current proposed Urban Rail route are now saying their comments are being disregarded, but the city says it's all a misunderstanding.

The city is saying that the proposed route from three years ago is a different project than the route it's considering now and must be treated as a separate project in order to get federal funds.

That means taking public comments again.

The proposed 9.5 mile Urban Rail route would start on East Riverside Drive traveling north and ending at Austin Community College's Highland Campus.

The Austin City Council will vote whether to put a billion dollar bond proposal on the November ballot.

"We feel like the public has wasted their time with the comment ," said Steven Knapp with Our Rail.

Groups like Our Rail, Central Austin Community Development Corporation and the Texas Association of public Transportation say their input was for nothing. In a press release Tuesday, groups show the city of Austin ending a process with the Federal Transit Administration which would provide money for a rail project.

The public comment and study process will restart next year.

"The history of comments going away, that's clearly not the case," said Kyle Keahey, Lead, Project Connect

The Project Connect Lead says in order to apply for federal funds, which they are doing for the urban rail project, they must go through a process of research including getting the public's opinion. In 2011 they began that process for a previously considered route.

"Based on the comments we received the city of Austin said you know we need to take a step back and do a system plan before we propose a specific project," Keahey said.

The route has since changed based on those recommendations.

So the process must begin, again.


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