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Capital Metro Seeks To Balance Disruptions With Progress During Downtown Station Construction

A construction crew works on the site of the future Capital Metro downtown station.
Gabriel C. Pérez
/
KUT
A construction crew works on the site of the future Capital Metro downtown station.

The construction site for the new downtown station for Capital Metro's Red Line sits in a busy area near the intersection of Fourth Street and Red River Street, close to the Austin Convention Center.

That area is going to get even busier in a few weeks, when South by Southwest kicks off March 13.

Cap Metro and Jay-Reese Contractors say they are working to keep disruptions to a minimum during the festival.

“We’re partnering with South by Southwest staff, the convention center and Hilton hotel to make sure the sidewalks are wide, the bikeways are addressed in a safe manner," said Marcus Guerrero, project manager for the station. “We definitely want the construction to have a minimal impact on that, but we also have a construction project going on, so we’re trying to partner with them.”

Cap Metro hosted a tour of the site Friday morning and provided an update on the progress of the work. Construction on the $37 million project began last April and is on track to be completed by spring of 2021. Crews are working on relocating utility lines underground to put in more tracks. Further track work is expected to begin in the summer.

Downtown_Station_View-from-Above_January-2019_0.jpeg
Credit Capital Metro
An artist's rendering of the new Red Line station near the Austin Convention Center.

The new station will feature additional platforms and safety improvements. It also will have added capacity for trains, allowing for more frequent service on the Red Line.

"With the three tracks and space for up to four trains, and maybe a potential fifth train in the future ... we see this as a station that will last many, many years,” Guerrero said.

A group of Cap Metro riders won a Twitter contest to be part of the tour, which also included journalists.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to improve transit,” Melissa Rothrock said after the tour ended. “I depend on the transit system here, and I’m excited to see more development.”

Service to downtown was suspended for several months last year as part of the construction project, contributing to a significant drop in ridership on the Red Line. Ridership rebounded after a temporary station near the Austin Visitor Center opened in November.

The project also includes construction of a new public plaza near Brush Square, which would help accommodate crowds during large events like South by Southwest.

Eventually, the downtown station would serve as a major transit hub for Cap Metro – if and when the transit system is expanded in Austin under the Project Connect plan.

Got a tip? Email Samuel King at samuel@kut.org. Follow him @SamuelKingNews.

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