Over the last 40 years, growth in Central Texas has headed for the exurbs of Round Rock, Georgetown, Buda, Kyle and Bee Cave.
Mike Martinez admitted during the last election, the anti-growth culture at One Texas Center created Bee Cave. CodeNEXT could take Austin in a new direction, but if the culture at One Texas Center does not change, neither will Austin’s future.
Two rail plans are currently under discussion in Austin: Lone Star Rail District (now in its Environmental Impact Study) and more privately the Guadalupe-Lamar Light Rail Transit line. The latter is a response to the City’s misinterpretation of the reasons Project Connect failed in the last election / referendum. Austin voters were not anti-rail. They were against a bad plan that did not address existing traffic congestion.
Lone Star Rail could create "the linear city." Communities living close to stations along this rail lines could have a better quality of life than suburban residents. They would have more time to do things because they are not stuck in traffic. They can live in Austin and go to school in San Marcos or San Antonio because THEIR transportation is reliable and their transit time productive. Their world is larger because a short walk to a station opens up the entire rail corridor for shopping, school, entertainment, work and play. Their quality of life is improved and their cost of living is reduced.
For them, what trips occur off the rail corridor might well be less frequent and shorter. The benefit to other residents is it reduces the vehicle miles traveled per capita and reduces demand for new traffic lanes to be constructed. Our current road system would improve just because the demands upon it would be reduced.
We will not be able to turn around 30 years of heading in the wrong direction on a dime. But my two cents says a sustainable Austin must have rail. Popular support for rail can drive the land use conversation, where and how Austin grows, at City Council and One Texas Center.