Approval of Leander MetroRail trail spurs questions over improving connectivity to Capital Metro’s transit service

Capital Metro, in partnership with the city of Leander, will build a trail between the Leander MetroRail station and the new Austin Community College campus in Leander.

Capital Metro, in partnership with the city of Leander, will build a trail between the Leander MetroRail station and the new Austin Community College campus in Leander.

UPDATED 2 p.m. March 5

Capital Metro board members approved a construction contract Feb. 26 to build a trail between its Leander MetroRail station and the new Austin Community College.

But shortly before the vote, some board members questioned whether the transit agency could do more to improve connectivity to its service.
Leander rail trail

In 2017, Capital Metro approved an interlocal agreement with the city of Leander to construct a quarter-mile trail from the Leander MetroRail station to a road adjacent to the new ACC campus in Leander that will open in September.

The 100-acre ACC campus site, located between Hero Way, Mel Mathis Boulevard and Toll 183A, sits within Leander’s transit-oriented development, or TOD, district, which is the city’s walkable mixed-use district focused around transportation.

The total cost for the trail is $389,459, of which the city of Leander is contributing $92,000, said Ken Cartwright, Capital Metro’s vice president of capital projects. The high cost for a short trail is attributed to the challenging geography.

“We are building a bridge that in fact is crossing a drainage way,” he said. “[The trail] will allow students and faculty to walk back and forth from the station.”

The Leander trail project will include the bridge over the North Fork Branch of Brushy Creek as well as lighting for the safety and security of pedestrians and bicyclists using the trail.
Future connectivity projects

Capital Metro board member Jeff Travillion, who is also the Precinct 1 commissioner for Travis County representing Northeast Austin, said he would like to know what similar connectivity options the agency could look into for other areas, such as at the underused North Lamar Transit Center.

One resident had raised concerns Feb. 26 about some routes being eliminated or rerouted later in June and no longer passing through the transit center. This includes Route 240, which will be eliminated in North Austin. Two other routes 300 and 350, will be realigned and terminate farther south at the Crestview MetroRail station.

Todd Hemingson, Capital Metro’s vice president of planning and development, said the agency has been looking at ways to improve connectivity at the transit center and to connect better to Route 801 on North Lamar so the buses won’t have to get off Lamar to access the transit center.

“We could improve pedestrian access so the bus stays on North Lamar,” he said. “We’re also looking at redeveloping and redesigning the center as well.”

Board member Ann Kitchen, who also sits on Austin City Council, said she would like to see a discussion item on connectivity to transit service return to the board.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to correct the the city with which Capital Metro signed the interlocal agreement for the Leander trail.
By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and later senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels.



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