Capital Metro, city of Austin to partner with nonprofit to explore creating a Red Line rail trail plan

In 2013, a nearly 1-mile segment of the Red Line Trail opened in North Central Austin between the Crestview and Highland rail stations. (Peter McCrady/Community Impact Newspaper)
In 2013, a nearly 1-mile segment of the Red Line Trail opened in North Central Austin between the Crestview and Highland rail stations. (Peter McCrady/Community Impact Newspaper)

In 2013, a nearly 1-mile segment of the Red Line Trail opened in North Central Austin between the Crestview and Highland rail stations. (Peter McCrady/Community Impact Newspaper)

A 2007 proposal to create a system of trails, parks and transit-oriented development could start to take shape as the city of Austin and Capital Metro start to work with a nonprofit on creating an implementation plan.

The Red Line Trail is a proposed 32-mile trail that would run adjacent to the MetroRail Red Line between downtown Austin and Leander. The trail was first conceived as part of Capital Metro’s bicycle and pedestrian facilities feasibility study completed in 2007.

A nonprofit group of citizens seeking to see this trail come to fruition started the Red Line Parkway Initiative in 2017 to create a larger network of trails, parks and public space along the Red Line. This group seeks to help coordinate with the city, Capital Metro and other stakeholders to create a continuous 32-mile urban trail and park space adjacent to the MetroRail Red Line.

“We want to create a corridor that people can walk and bike along safely,” said Tom Wald, a biking and walking advocate who serves as executive director for the Red Line Parkway Initiative, at the Nov. 18 Capital Metro board meeting. “[The parkway] would provide them with more access to transit and other destinations along the corridor.”

The group’s vision is now gaining traction as City Council approved a resolution Nov. 14 and the Capital Metro board of directors approved a resolution Nov. 18. These resolutions propose the city and Capital Metro work with the nonprofit to create a Red Line Parkway plan and outline partnerships, roles, responsibilities and ways to implement and manage the plan.


Wald said next steps include confirming a timeline to engage government and community stakeholders to develop the parkway plan as well as continuing to raise funding for the plan.

District 7 City Council Member Leslie Pool, whose district includes a portion of the MetroRail Red Line, sponsored the City Council resolution.

“We know from a 2018 environmental report that single-occupancy vehicles produce 36% of Austin’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Pool said in a news release. “I’m proud that this council demonstrated its strong commitment to achieving our climate protection goals.”

A nearly 1-mile segment of the trail opened in 2013 between the Crestview and Highland MetroRail stations in North Central Austin.

A segment of the trail from Braker Lane to the North Walnut Creek Trail is receiving funds from the 2016 Mobility Bond for engineering and design. Capital Metro is working with the city’s public works department on the alignment to ensure the route will not have any conflicts with ongoing Red Line construction for positive train control safety systems.

Even with the support from City Council and Capital Metro, the transit agency’s five-year capital improvement plan does not include any proposed Red Line trail projects, Capital Metro spokeswoman Mariette Hummel said. She said the agency is focused on its Project Connect regional transit plan to expand service in the region, replacing its bus fleet, adding electric buses and making information technology improvements.

“We really see [this resolution] as us saying we like the [Red Line Trail] concept and we want to see what it could be like,” said Ann Kitchen, a City Council member and Capital Metro board member.

The Red Line Parkway Initiative is hosting an official launch party Nov. 21 at 5:30 p.m. More details are available at www.redlineparkway.org/events.
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