Right-of-Way Preservation

One of the most important elements of the plan is actually not about building new transit or adding new service, but preserving future opportunities to do those things. That comes in the form of right-of-way preservation, which will be a part of the Project Connect process, too.

That preservation consists of either buying or otherwise securing rights to various rights-of-way, such as freight rail lines that are no longer used. These rights-of-way are invaluable because they represent unique opportunities for transit service and, once they are gone, the alternative of trying to acquire dozens or even hundreds of individual tracts of land through eminent domain to create a new right-of-way is typically very expensive, time consuming and, at times, controversial.

Project Connect calls for right-of-way preservation on two former freight rail corridors: the former MOKAN line that parallels I-35 from downtown Austin to the Georgetown area, and the "Bergstrom Spur" that extends from the Union Pacific Railroad line in south Austin to just east of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA). Capital Metro used its ownership of existing freight-rail right-of-way to fast track implementation of the Red Line and owns a total of 154 miles of freight-rail right-of-way between Llano and Giddings. Despite the unsuccessful urban rail referendum of 2014, Project Connect will also seek to preserve right-of-way in Central Austin for future high-capacity transit service. What those projects will be, exactly, will be determined by input from the public, stakeholders, and city and regional agencies, which will forge the priorities going forward.