Capital Metro plans March groundbreaking for new downtown Austin MetroRail station, tweaks design of project

Capital Metro plans to break ground in late March on the new downtown MetroRail station.

Capital Metro plans to break ground in late March on the new downtown MetroRail station.

Image description
New downtown MetroRail station
Image description
New downtown MetroRail station
Capital Metro is about two months away from breaking ground on a project that will overhaul its smallest yet busiest MetroRail station.

The project, slated to break ground in late March, includes building a new platform on Fourth Street between Neches and Red River streets, expanding to three tracks, constructing a new bridge over Waller Creek and adding a public plaza.

After construction finishes in two years, Capital Metro will be able to boost the frequency and capacity of the MetroRail line in conjunction with adding double tracking and purchasing new vehicles, which the agency has already completed.

Design changes


Capital Metro also has had to make some design changes and scale back the scope of the project. These changes include reducing the number of canopies from seven to five, removing the ticketing kiosk and reducing the length of the proposed third track, Project Manager Marcus Guerrero said.

“Some of the main reasons of [changing] the design is that the cost of construction higher than we anticipated,” he said.

Guerrero said contractors bidding on the project said several factors contribute to higher construction costs. These include a nationwide shortage of skilled labor, higher prices of steel and imposed tariffs.

The transit agency has seen some cost savings. Capital Metro and the city will split an estimated $6 million cost to upgrade a stormwater pipe below ground from 30 inches to 60 inches. In December, Austin City Council agreed to waive $1 million in fees and approved the encroachment and easement agreements that also saved about $13 million.

A $22 million grant from the Texas Department of Transportation awarded in 2014 will cover most of the cost of the new station.

Jumping the last hurdle


Even with the groundbreaking just a couple of months out, the transit agency has to clear at least one more hurdle.

Capital Metro will have to follow the city’s water quality regulations that stipulate the agency will have to handle debris and dirt from water runoff. An existing city-constructed water quality pond off Third Street near Red River Street is not working properly, Guerrero said.

The city gave Capital Metro two options: either build its own water quality pond on Fourth Street, or pay to fix the existing water quality pond. Because Fourth Street is entirely impervious, meaning it does not allow water to pass through, Capital Metro is appealing for a waiver so it can get its construction permit, Guerrero said. If the city denies the permit, Capital Metro will have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix the pond.

Eric Stratton, the newly appointed Capital Metro board member, said the issues Capital Metro has faced with the pond concern him.

“As the partner on this project, I’m concerned that we shouldn’t have to go with all of these steps, including an appeal for a permit, when we are the Capital Metropolitan Transit Authority,” he said. “We’re not a private business or a developer downtown. We are another entity of government.”
SHARE THIS STORY
By Amy Denney

Amy has been reporting in community journalism since 2007. She worked in the Chicago suburbs for three years before migrating south and joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2010. Amy has been editor of the Northwest Austin publication since August 2012 and she is also the transportation beat reporter for the Austin area.


MOST RECENT

Capital Metro station
All Capital Metro fares will be free throughout April

Beginning April 1, riders will not have to pay Capital Metro operators or use the farebox.

The first death from coronavirus was reported in Williamson County Saturday morning. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Williamson County reports first death related to coronavirus

First death attributed to coronavirus in Williamson County was a male in his 70s.

Pflugerville ISD will expand its curbside free meal pickup program and serve dinner for district families. (Courtesy Adobe Stock Images)
Pflugerville ISD expands free meal program, now offers dinner for curbside pickup

Pflugerville ISD will expand its curbside free meal pickup program and serve dinner for district families.

Turnstile Coffee Beer and Spirits
Will they or won’t they? Austin restaurants split on when to open during coronavirus pandemic

While some restaurants have bunkered down to open at later dates, some Austin restaurants are moving forward with service.

Despite heavy restrictions on public gatherings in place, sizable crowds gathered March 24 on the free side of Barton Springs pool, just hours before Austin's stay-at-home order went into effect. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Residents have reported 180 violations since Austin area's stay-at-home order went into effect

No penalties have been issued since the order went into effect March 25.

The business plans to produce 100 gallons of sanitizer over the next week. (Community Impact Newspaper)
Cedar Park brewery working to mix 100 gallons of sanitizer for Williamson County

The business plans to produce 100 gallons of sanitizer over the next week.

Austin Public Health officials confirmed the first death from the coronavirus in Travis County on March 27. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
First Travis County resident dies from coronavirus

According to public health officials, the woman was in her 70s and had underlying health conditions.

Here is the latest news on stay-at-home orders across the Austin area

Find out if your locale is sheltering in place or what legal consequences the coronavirus is creating in the stories below.

While the agency is still tallying the number of unemployment insurance claims filed thus far in March, in the week prior to March 25, at least 150,000 claims had been filed. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Official: Increase in calls for statewide unemployment benefits is ‘almost vertical’

According to Serna, on an average day the Texas Workforce Commission’s four call centers statewide receive 13,000-14,000 calls; on March 22, the agency received 100,000 calls regarding unemployment insurance benefit inquiries.

Half of the Austin City Council called in remotely for their March 26 meeting, their first since strict social distancing measures went into effect. (Courtesy ATXN)
Austin economic relief efforts underway for renters, workers and small businesses following series of City Council approvals

Council members said the approvals represent only the start of coronavirus relief work coming from the city.

Pflugerville ISD
Pflugerville ISD to launch new districtwide online instruction programs March 30

On March 26, Pflugerville ISD announced some details of its upcoming remote learning program, which will include both online and offline instructional activities for children of all grade levels

Back to top