A major MetroRail project will get underway this spring that will help Capital Metro make the most of its nine-year-old commuter rail line.
The downtown MetroRail station construction will start in April following a late March groundbreaking. Work includes expanding the station on Fourth Street adjacent to the Austin Convention Center to three train tracks.
“It’s a big project for Capital Metro,” agency President and CEO Randy Clarke said. “This is our opportunity to really fulfill the potential of the Red Line. It’s a good line, but to make it great, we really need to fund these investments.”
The transit agency’s board approved a construction contract Feb. 25 with Jay-Reese Contractors for an amount not to exceed $38.86 million. That amount includes the $30.72 million cost of construction with a 20 percent contingency of $6.14 million.
Other work in the construction contract includes constructing a new bridge over Waller Creek, adding a public plaza and adding five canopies over the new platform.
“We now are doing the things to make this a real robust rail line that can serve our community proudly in the years to come,” Capital Metro board Chairman Wade Cooper said.
In June through October, MetroRail service will stop at Plaza Saltillo to the east, and riders will take a shuttle to downtown. This closure will allow the contractor to build a temporary station east of the existing one. The Lance Armstrong Bikeway will also be rerouted to Fifth Street.
“We’re really doing this for customer and worker safety during this time,” said Ken Cartwright, Capital Metro’s vice president of capital projects.
Capital Metro also has construction underway to add double tracking near several stations—Lakeline, Howard, Crestview and east of Plaza Saltillo. That construction will wrap up this summer, according to Capital Metro. Work is still ongoing to implement the federally mandated positive train control measures that are designed to improve safety.
The expanded station will also allow Capital Metro to have a connection to the long-planned Green Line that would run east to Manor and Elgin.
“If the Green Line is built, we will have the opportunity in downtown to serve both lines,” Clarke said.