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New MetroRail Station Opens In Downtown Austin Months Ahead Of Schedule

Trains rolled into Capital Metro’s new Downtown Station on Monday morning for the first time. The $37 million project beat its expected timeline by six months and came in $3 million under budget, according to officials.

“Projects like this new Downtown Station are a testament to Capital Metro's commitment to serving Austin, everyone's hard work, and most significantly, an investment in Austin's future,” Mayor Steve Adler said during a ceremony that marked the opening.

The new station features three new tracks and can hold up to four trains at one time. While ridership is down during the pandemic, Cap Metro officials say completing the station early allows them to be prepared if and when demand rebounds.

“We have through the fall slowly seen that start to come back, and we continue to monitor it closely,” Dottie Watkins, Cap Metro’s chief operating officer, said. “And we'll be adding more service into the spring when we see more commuters coming back into the downtown core for work trips, primarily.”

Watkins credited the project’s construction and engineering contractors for helping the project to finish ahead of schedule.

“You may recall that in the summer of 2019, we temporarily closed service to downtown and bused people in from Plaza Saltillo,” Watkins said. “That allowed us to get some of the street work done more quickly because we didn't have to pause to let trains come through. So, that was one big thing. But we've really just been able to work in multiple parts of the site at one time.”

The work, which began in the spring of 2019, was disruptive for nearby businesses and hotels.

“Some of you have been impacted by construction. I apologize for that,” Randy Clarke, Cap Metro’s president and CEO, said. “But thank you for your patience. Improvements do take a little bit a headache, but they all really end up in a beautiful community amenity.”

Work continues to finish up on a new public plaza next to the station, as well as new sidewalks and a bikeway. More improvements are planned for the Red Line, including a new station at the Broadmoor Development at the Domain and, eventually, service to the new Austin FC soccer stadium.

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Samuel King covers transportation and mobility for KUT News.
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