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Cap Metro awards contracts for two downtown rail stations

Friday, May 2, 2008 by Mark Richardson

While the buzz over the city’s proposed new light rail line between Downtown, Mueller and ABIA continues, Capital Metro is moving forward with plans on getting its commuter rail project on the tracks and running by this fall. Capitol Metro’s Board of Directors on Monday approved the construction of two rail stations and an interlocal agreement with the City of Austin to develop “Quiet Zones” at rail crossings.


The Cap Metro Board voted unanimously to award a $3,570,575 contract to Journeyman Construction for the Fourth Street Interim Station; the same company will construct the Martin Luther King Jr. Street Station for $3,530,589.


The Fourth Street Interim Station will be built behind the Austin Convention Center as a temporary downtown stop for MetroRail’s Red Line. The work will include the relocation of a water line between Sabine and Red River, the construction of a portion of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway between Red River and Trinity, the construction of an Interim Rail Station at the Convention Center, and improvements on the north side of Fourth Street between Neches and Trinity, providing new sidewalks and planting trees.


The MLK Jr. Station for the MetroRail Project will be located south of MLK Blvd.  and west of the rail track. The work includes the construction of infrastructure including an Alexander Road extension, 17th Street improvements, storm water drainage, wet and dry utilities, a Station Plaza area, connections to the Station Platform, bus stops, temporary bikeways, sidewalks and landscaping.


Both stations will be designed to connect to local bus routes to take rail commuters to their final destinations. Both stations may eventually be used for other mass transit, such as light rail or trolley cars. Construction on both stations is expected to start in late May or June.


Capital Metro’s Board also approved an interlocal agreement with the City of Austin to establish railroad Quiet Zones under Federal Railroad Administration guidelines at rail crossings within the Austin city limits. This agreement would enhance an existing agreement for Quiet Zones already in effect with the city.


The rail crossings within the Quiet Zones will have safety measures installed and maintained by Capital Metro that meet Federal Rail Administration safety guidelines. These additional safety measures allow trains to refrain from blowing their horns at crossings, most of which are in residential areas.


Capital Metro officials said that as the owner of the rail line, they do not have the authority to establish the Quiet Zones per federal regulations. Such zones can only be established by the jurisdiction with safety enforcement responsibility at the affected crossings.


That means the City of Austin must initiate the process for the establishment of Quiet Zones within the city limits. The interlocal agreement allows Capital Metro to assist the City of Austin in the process to create Quiet Zones within the City’s jurisdiction now and in the future.

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