$50M grant for more MetroRail cars, station improvements

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Transportation approved $50 million in grants Thursday for new MetroRail cars and an expanded downtown rail station.

The money would go towards the purchase of four additional rail cars and to help construct a permanent station downtown.

“It’s encouraging that TxDOT is looking for and supporting multimodal strategies to help tackle our congestion challenges,” Sen. Kirk Watson said. “It’s not possible to meet the demands of a thriving economy and fast growing population by only investing in roads.  We need to embrace every available option to provide relief.”

The new cars will cost $28 million and will double the capacity of the current rail system, allowing up to 2,400 passenger trips during the morning and evening rush.

The remaining money will be used to replace the downtown station which was originally designed to be a temporary structure. The new station would include three tracks and two platforms to accommodate for possible future expansion and to better serve large crowds during special events. Some additional money is expected to come from local partners to help cover the remaining costs.

In 2013, Capital Metro received $11.3 million in federal funding to lay double tracks at strategic points along the 32-mile commuter line.

CapMetro officials say the new funding will help cut down wait time from 34 minutes during peak travel time to 15 minutes. It will also allow for a late train hitting the tracks after 7 p.m.

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