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Federal transit official calls $7B Project Connect 'transformational'

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett said that nearly half of the $7.1 billion price tag is expected to be funded by federal grants.

AUSTIN, Texas — Capital Metro (CapMetro) leaders, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Nuria Fernandez, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, met Wednesday to discuss the transit service's impact on the community and its future programming, Project Connect's progress and CapMetro's partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration and congressional delegation.

Austin voters approved Project Connect in the November 2020 election. That greenlit a $7.1 billion transit plan that includes adding two light rails, a commuter rail line, rapid bus service and more.   

CapMetro CEO Randy Clarke said President Joe Biden's $1 trillion infrastructure bill funding will be crucial to the projects moving forward. 

Doggett said the plan is for nearly half of Project Connect's $7 billion price tag to be funded by federal assistance. So, Doggett said the partnership with the Federal Transit Administration is vital for the project's success.

Fernandez said Austin is one of the models for understanding the value of public transportation. She also said that Project Connect will be "transformational."

"[The City of Austin] is doing all the right things and we are very proud to be partners with them," Fernandez said. "Looking forward to working with them on the other programs in Project Connect."

Doggett said Project Connect represents an initiative Austin has needed for decades. He added that the initiative will help bring the whole city closer together and achieve equitable mobility. 

Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion commended the efforts of CapMetro to improve equitable transit in the city. 

"We're pleased with the way that we're growing. We're going to redouble our efforts to do the things that need to be done to make this the most exciting transit market you could have," Travillion said. "We know in order to have a truly great city, you need to have a truly great transit system. And that's what we are working to build in Austin."

CapMetro recently broke ground on the new Pleasant Valley MetroRapid line. The Pleasant Valley MetroRapid line is one of four new MetroRapid lines approved as part of Project Connect. The line will run through East Austin from Mueller to the future Goodnight Ranch Park & Ride.

Watch the update from Doggett and CapMetro here:

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