Rail project funding accelerates to connect Austin and San Antonio

KYLE, Texas (KXAN) — Bumper-to-bumper traffic on Interstate 35 is a constant reminder of the need for transportation solutions. The Lone Star Rail Project, or LSTAR, aims to alleviate some of that congestion through the Austin-San Antonio corridor. Now the project is accelerating with various cities getting on board with local funding.

As Mayor of Kyle, Lucy Johnson says it’s about time for a rail line.

“It’s been thrilling to know that we’re sort of leaders in this movement for rail transportation for commuter rail,” said Johnson.

This month Kyle signed a preliminary agreement with the project, which may add an LSTAR stop in the city.

“Adequate transportation remains one of the top priorities for my residents in Kyle,” Johnson said. “Most of them are commuters into Travis County each day.”

Austin and San Marcos were the first two cities to sign on to the project. LSTAR officials say Austin plans to have at least five stations, and San Marcos may have two.

Now Buda is getting on board as well. On Tuesday night the Buda City Council heard a presentation from LSTAR officials, and unanimously agreed to move forward with an economic impact assessment for a Buda station. This will allow them to assess the tax revenues they can expect from participating in the project.

Joseph Black, the Rail Director at Lone Star Rail District, said, “We’re really happy, because we think a system that serves Travis and Hays County is the minimal system that we would want to operate that would offer service to  a  logical number people.”

Black also tells KXAN that the environmental impact statement for the project begins this month. Then in about 60-90 days LSTAR plans to hold public meetings to hear from residents.

“We’ll go out for whats called agency and public scoping. And that just means you go out to the public, show them the project and say give us your thoughts,” said Black.

“My grandfather was born and raised in Hays County,” said Johnson. “When he went to UT back in the 1920’s, he actually took the rail from San Marcos all the way to school. So, it’s unfortunate that its taken us decades and decades just to get back to that place that he experienced in the 1920’s. So I call this getting back to the past.”

Once completed the LSTAR hopes to provide a 75-minute express service from downtown Austin to downtown San Antonio. If all goes as planned, the first train could be running in five years.

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