AUSTIN, Texas – A new grassroots organization has rolled out a plan to tackle Austin’s traffic problem by creating alternative transportation methods.

  • Draft proposal would cost $4.4 billion
  • Experts say likely too expensive to implement
  • CapMetro to release new Project Connect details next week

It’s based around CapMetro’s Project Connect, but organizers say the plan expands upon the work already being done.

And while an urban planning expert we spoke with says it may not be feasible right now, it’s helping bring the crucial public transportation conversation to the forefront.

Urban Transportation Commissioner Susan Somers helped create the draft proposal called Wheel Deal.

"We may not have all the perfect answers right now - we're just trying to get a starting point to help people imagine what a bond could look like, help them imagine the size of the bond and all the amazing things that we could get for that money," said Somers.

CapMetro has proposed high frequency service from North Austin to Slaughter as well as another line running from central Austin to the airport. The Wheel Deal plan suggests using light rail for those proposed lines.

The plan also incorporates increased funding for more dedicated bike lanes, new rapid transit buses, and more sidewalks.

University of Texas urban planning professor Dr. Junfeng Jiao says the plan is ambitious, but brings up the importance of marrying public transit with the location of growth and secondary transit options.

"We have to think about how to coordinate the transportation system and land-use together. We cannot build a road that leads to nowhere, (the) same way we cannot build light rail that leads to nowhere," said Jiao.

With a price tag of roughly $4.4 billion, Jiao believes its likely too expensive to implement, however, it starts a necessary dialogue as the city is expected to double in population within the next 20 years.

This all comes ahead of CapMetro’s release of new details on Project Connect expected next week.

Somers says those figures will likely change their proposed numbers, adding that their proposal is simply a draft at this point.