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Cap Metro board meeting produces little by way of sizzle

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s monthly board of directors meeting on Monday was a relatively brief affair. The light agenda featured several consent items, including the relocation of Pine Street Station and the formalization of the transit agency’s participation in the Republic Square renovation project. The board also heard a presentation from the Urban Land Institute about the Downtown Station expansion proposal. As a dues-paying member of ULI, Cap Metro was privileged to have experts from the organization perform a two-day study of the project back in February. Representatives told the board that they studied the proposal, talked to landowners proximate to the station and also heard from other stakeholders. The four recommendations the group constructed from that work closely mirror what Cap Metro has already proposed to do as it looks to use $22 million from a state grant to build a permanent MetroRail station next to the Austin Convention Center on East Fourth Street. (The existing station, officials say, was always meant to be temporary.) The project comes with its own set of complications, including the small size of the space, which must be divided among cars, trains, bicycles and pedestrians. One of the ULI reps suggested that perhaps part of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway that runs down that stretch of East Fourth Street might be converted into a dismount zone. After the presentation, Cap Metro long-range planner Javier Argüello indicated to the Austin Monitor that the suggestion would be unlikely to make it into the final plans. He said the agency has “not contemplated that” and that the city of Austin also has not proposed it.

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