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


MOST RECENT

Pease Elementary School students walk out of class Nov. 18 ahead of an Austin ISD vote to close four elementary schools, including Pease. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
BREAKING: Austin ISD trustees vote to close four elementary schools

Austin ISD trustees on Nov. 18 to close three East Austin and one downtown campus for the 2020-21 school year in the process.

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

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

W Nail Salon (Courtesy Larry French/Getty Images for DSW and W Nail Bar)
Nail salon opens Nov. 20 inside DSW shoe store in North Austin

A Columbus, Ohio-based nail salon opens Nov. 20 inside DSW shoe store in North Austin

Pease Elementary students, parents and teachers walked from their school on Nov. 18 to Austin City Hall to attend a press conference urging Austin ISD trustees to postpone a vote to close four public schools. Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper
Local community, political leaders urge Austin ISD board of trustees to slow down school closure process, delay vote

Austin ISD's board of trustees is scheduled to vote on a plan to close four elementary schools the evening of Nov. 18. Community advocates and political leaders want the board to slow the process down.

woman in exercise clothes pushing a weight
Core Progression now open in Lakeline area

Core Progression offers fitness training and group classes.

Silver Grill Cafe closes in Northwest Austin

Silver Grill Cafe closes doors in October

Rendering courtesy Studio8
Greater Texas Credit Union to build new headquarters near Apple campus in Northwest Austin

Greater Texas Credit Union to build new headquarters near Apple campus in Northwest Austin

Courtesy Desk Plants
Austin-based company selling hard-to-kill plants opening holiday shop at Domain Northside

Holiday shop selling potted plants opens in Domain Northside

Vegetable chow mein ($9.99)
Limbu makes a traditional Chinese dish made from egg noodles with a Nepali street-style sauce. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Northwest Austin eatery features a taste of the Himalayas

Northwest Austin eatery features a taste of the Himalayas

The Broadmoor Campus is proposed to have a new MetroRail station. (Rendering courtesy Brandywine Realty Trust)
City to work with Capital Metro on financing new Broadmoor and McKalla Place rail stations as development boom looms

Austin City Council expects the new Austin FC stadium and massive mixed-use development planned for McKalla Place and the Broadmoor Campus to result in heightened demand for public transit.

The Atlas 14 rainfall study found Austin to be at a much higher flood risk than previously understood.
Acknowledging expanded risk, Austin moves to prohibit additional density in city’s flood-prone areas

A recent federal flood risk study found Austin's flood risk to be significantly higher than previously understood.

Back to top