Project Connect vote: Austin residents pass $7.1 billion transit plan

The plan includes two new light rail lines and a downtown tunnel separating trains from street level. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
The plan includes two new light rail lines and a downtown tunnel separating trains from street level. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

The plan includes two new light rail lines and a downtown tunnel separating trains from street level. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)

UPDATE: 12:19 a.m.

With all Travis County votes counted and all Williamson County precincts reporting, Project Connect passed has passed with 57.94% of the vote—240,433 votes to 174,528 against. Proposition B passed with 67.07% of the vote—273,892 votes in support and 134,476 against.

UPDATE: 9:17 p.m.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Capital Metro President and CEO Randy Clark and Capital Metro board of directors chair Wade Cooper have all declared victory for Project Connect. With early vote results in, more than 58% of voters cast ballots in support.

"This plan is a result of a 20-year conversation here in Austin," Clarke said. "It has been a long road, but we now have a data-driven, community-designed plan the voters are telling us they want built."


Austin voters rejected rail propositions in both 2000 and 2014.

"The reason we were able to win this year after a couple of losses in earlier decades, this was a community-driven plan," Cooper said.

UPDATE: 8:02 p.m.

Adler, speaking at the Travis County Democratic Party headquarters Nov. 3, expressed appreciation for the coalition of groups supporting Project Connect, and said he is "excited and proud to be part of a city that is moving towards a future that is saying so dramatically that the status quo is not good enough."

"We have tried this election more than once, and it is about time that we moved it across the goal line. This is a city that said they want to do something about traffic and at a scale equal to the challenge it faces, a city that recognizes our responsibility to climate change," Adler said. "Really importantly, a city that wants us to do everything we can for equity and justice and fairness, and mobility actually is a big part of that."

Proposition B, a $460 million transportation bond, is also on its way to approval. The bond, which would provide funding to improve city roads, sidewalks, bike paths and more, received 67.51% approval in early voting, or 254,224 of a total 376,570 votes.

Original story

With early voting results tallied, 58.5% of Austin residents have voted to approve Project Connect, Capital Metro's plan to expand its public transportation network within the city of Austin.

Only residents who live within the city limits voted on Proposition A. In Travis County, 58.8% of early votes were cast in favor, or 212,769 out of 361,749. In Williamson County, 52.6% voted for the proposition, or 10,794 of 20,522 total early votes cast.

The total plan would cost around $7.1 billion—about 45% of which Capital Metro officials said it expects to be paid for by the federal government—and it would be funded through a tax rate increase in the city of Austin of $0.0875 per $100 of valuation for a total city tax rate of $0.5335.

The majority of that cost—about $5.8 billion of the $7.1 billion—would come from two new light rail lines and a downtown tunnel separating trains from street level. The Orange Line would run north to south from the North Lamar Boulevard area to South Congress Avenue, and the other, the Blue Line, would run from the airport through downtown and up North Lamar, alongside the Orange Line.

Community Impact Newspaper has broken down the tax implications of the decision so Austin homeowners can see exactly what their tax bills will look like for the upcoming year with the new—and permanent—addition for Project Connect.

County clerks in Travis County and Williamson County are still counting votes from Election Day. According to the Travis County Clerk's office, the unofficial number of early voters was 553,290, or 64.7% of the 855,175 registered voters in the county. The clerk's office said 50,558 voters had cast ballots on Election Day. Williamson County broke records with 70% early voting turnout.

Visit communityimpact.com/voter-guide/election-results to see results from all local elections in your community.

Results are updated as of 11 p.m. and are unofficial until they are canvassed and certified by the county clerk. Under Texas election law, the clerk accepts and counts mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day and received by Nov. 4, if they were sent from inside the U.S., or Nov. 9 if they were sent from outside the U.S.