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Project Connect receives $900K federal grant for planning, anti-displacement efforts

The initial investment for Project Connect already includes $300 million for anti-displacement efforts, so Capital Metro says this grant will help expand those.

AUSTIN, Texas β€” Project Connect just got a boost from the federal government. Capital Metro said Monday that it has been awarded a $900,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to support development and anti-displacement efforts for Project Connect.

The initial $7.1 billion Project Connect investment already includes $300 million for anti-displacement efforts. CapMetro says this new FTA grant will expand those efforts. 

CapMetro and the City of Austin anticipate that nearly half of the costs of Project Connect will be supported by federal grants and commitments.

"The FTA Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning grant award comes only one month after Austinites made a historic decision to fund Project Connect, and it is the first example of federal funding Capital Metro expects to secure in support [of] the program," CapMetro said Monday.

CapMetro said the grant funds will be used to study the North Lamar/Guadalupe/Riverside Fixed Guideway Corridor, a 12-mile light rail segment core that includes both the Orange and Blue light rail lines from North Lamar Boulevard and U.S. 183 to U.S. 183 and East Riverside Drive.

"This area includes many development hubs and placemaking opportunities," CapMetro said. "The outcome of the study will be recommendations to assist in the development of context-sensitive anti-displacement strategies and affordable housing projects along the corridor."

CapMetro anticipates taking the proposed Orange and Blue lines into the "Preliminary Engineering/National Environment Police Act" (NEPA) phase in early 2021. That phase involves the federally required review that evaluates the environmental, social and economic effects of projects. CapMetro said the grant will provide additional planning, financial analysis and regulatory tools related to NEPA and additional local land use policies.

The study will be managed by CapMetro, with technical and community engagement support from the City. CapMetro will provide a match of $250,000 committed funding for the corridor study.

Travis County voters approved the $7.1 billion Project Connect plan in the Nov. 3 general election. The plan will add two light rail lines, another commuter rail line, additional rapid bus services and more to Austin.

KVUE created an interactive map to illustrate what is included in the initial investment for the plan, as well as a timeline of the project's lengthy construction schedule. Learn more about Project Connect here.

WATCH: Project Connect: Austin voters approve Props A & B

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