Transport in Austin, last chance saloon

As an exercise for the reader, how often do you find yourself needing to head to places on Guadalupe and Lamar? How often for Red River? If you’re like most of the Austinites that are forced to waste their time stuck in traffic on the Drag each day, it’s clear that there are tons of people who want to go places along the Guadalupe/Lamar corridor. We should put rail there. – Niran Babalola

As noted on in a comment to my earlier post on last weeks transport vote, the city have effectively taken the *white flag or the **white envelope on their decision about light rail. Over on the Austin Chronicle website, they’ve published a letter from John Langmore, vice-chair of the Capital Metro board of directors and also a member of the Central Corridor Advisory Group.

His disingenuous letter includes a classic mis-characterization of his opponents by saying

We can’t pull the plug on a $48 million investment the month before it opens – John Langmore

No one was suggesting this. Niran Babalola published a great. concise summary rebutting Mr. Langmore attempt to whitewash out criticism. You can read it here after Langmores letter. However, actually I think returning $48 million to the federal government is a better option than wasting $800 million on a line to Highland Mall. However, as Niran points out, there is a compromise.

*White Flag, as in surrender. It’s easier to do this than the right thing

**White Envelope, as in back handed payment. Doing the developers bidding.

Author: Mark Cathcart

Formerly an Executive Director of Systems Engineering and a Senior Distinguished Engineer at Dell. Prior to that, an IBM Distinguished Engineer working for the Systems Group in NY and Austin. I'm currently "retired until further notice".

9 thoughts on “Transport in Austin, last chance saloon”

  1. In 2004, or whenever it was that we finally voted in MetroRail, part of the wording included bike lanes north-south along with the rail. That’s never materialized and yet seems to have gone unnoticed.

    As far as shutting down lanes on Lamar — haven’t the condo construction projects been doing this for the past 18 months anyway? Instead of backlash, closing lanes in order to improve transit would be far more palatable than closing lanes to add more cars (via more residents). As a side benefit, getting all of the riders in town reduces traffic for those coming from outlying areas.

    n.b. I’m having difficulty finding the original wording of the 2004 proposal sent to vote, but these comments from the time mention the trails. http://www.austinchronicle.com/postmarks/2004-10-26/234742/

    1. I was skeptical of the trails issue at the time – they, along with possible light rail down Guadalupe in 2006 or 2008, were empty promises made to get a few more center-city people to vote for this Austin-screwing monstrosity, and it worked.

  2. Mark,

    This is a great blog post. Thanks for adding your important two cents to this discussion. The level of rhetoric being employed by John Langmore is embarrassing. He is clearly not listening to what organizations like AURA are saying. He deleted my comment on his Facebook wall where I pointed out that his accusations are completely unfounded.

    As far as the trails along the RedLine goes, CapMetro has been slowly expanding the the urban trail network. As recently as August of this year, CapMetro opened a new segment of urban trails along the RedLine near Airport Blvd: http://impactnews.com/austin-metro/central-austin/crestview,-highland-neighborhood-residents-get-new-urban-tra/ They will be slowly expanding this network of hike and bike trails as time goes on.

    I hope that helps answer your questions.

    Thanks again,

    Jace

    1. Thanks Jace, as a relative newcomer to Austin, 7th year, I’ve been reluctant to speak up too much or be overly assertive as I know that 1. Due to my accent people will either not listen or will misunderstand 2. Will play the outsider and ignore me because it’s so obvious I’m not from here.

      I really appreciate all the time and and effort you, Mike and others have put into this.

    2. Jace,

      The key point is that Cap Metro tried to make people think there’d be a dedicated H/B-style trail the entire length of the Red Line the day it opened, when the actual plans have nothing of the sort and no-time soon. (It’s going to be signs on a winding path of many many streets in one stretch, for instance).

      This was one of many misleading tactics (such as initially describing Rapid Bus as a “possible placeholder for urban rail”) which were used to defuse possible center-city opposition prior to the 2004 election.

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