Project Connect plans to explore above-, below-ground options for East Riverside/Pleasant Valley Transit Center

The Austin Transit Partnership is exploring above- and below-ground options for a transit center at the East Riverside Drive and South Pleasant Valley intersection. (Courtesy Austin Transit Partnership)
The Austin Transit Partnership is exploring above- and below-ground options for a transit center at the East Riverside Drive and South Pleasant Valley intersection. (Courtesy Austin Transit Partnership)

The Austin Transit Partnership is exploring above- and below-ground options for a transit center at the East Riverside Drive and South Pleasant Valley intersection. (Courtesy Austin Transit Partnership)

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The underground station would put the bus and light rail on different levels. (Courtesy Austin Transit Partnership)
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Officials said that the underground station would allow for better traffic flow. (Courtesy Austin Transit Partnership)
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The transit center would serve both the MetroRail Blue Line and MetroRapid Pleasant Valley route. (Courtesy Austin Transit Partnership)
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A diagram shows a side-by-side view of the above- and below-ground options. (Courtesy Austin Transit Partnership)
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The above-ground option would allow for the bus and light rail to be on the same level. (Courtesy Austin Transit Partnership)
The transit center at the East Riverside Drive and South Pleasant Valley Road intersection could still be above or below ground as the Austin Transit Partnership plans to move forward with both options.

The Austin Transit Partnership, the government corporation overseeing Project Connect designs, held a community design workshop to discuss the two options. Peter Mullan, the Austin Transit Partnership’s chief of architecture and urban design, said that it is important to involve the community, particularly for complicated designs such as East Riverside and South Pleasant Valley.

“We try to lay out for ourselves and for the community a series of criteria that are most important,” Mullan said during the ATP board meeting Oct. 20. “This is not just a one issue problem to solve. There are a whole series of different criteria that we have to balance.”

The station would serve both the MetroRail Blue Line, which would run from downtown to the airport, and the MetroRapid Pleasant Valley bus line, which would run from the Mueller neighborhood to the Goodnight Ranch neighborhood.

Mullan said the conversations during the community design workshop helped to highlight the tradeoffs that each design presents.


Putting the transit center below ground would allow for better traffic flow and ensure pedestrians, bicyclists and cars do not have to cross a rail line, according to ATP documents. However, the bus and rail lines would not be at the same level, and it would be a higher cost.

An above-ground station would create a more seamless transfer between the MetroRail Blue Line and MetroRapid bus line and offer public space opportunities, according to the documents. It would also likely slow traffic.

“The light rail is not very agile as a piece of infrastructure. It wants to be flat. It wants to be straight,” Mullan said. “Once you put it in, it's hard to move it. We want to get that right, so there are two different strategies for how to do that.”

By Benton Graham

Metro Reporter, Austin

Benton joined Community Impact Newspaper as a metro reporter covering transportation in Central Texas in June 2021. Benton's writing has appeared in Vox, The Austin Chronicle, Austonia and Reporting Texas. Originally from Minneapolis, Benton graduated from William & Mary and eventually moved to Austin in 2018.



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