The Austin area is the fastest growing in the nation, and state and local authorities are pouring large sums into transportation investments to keep pace. There are two marquee investments. First, the perpetually congested stretch of I-35 near downtown is getting a massive expansion and renovation. Second, pursuant to a referendum, Austin is building Project Connect, an ambitious plan to build two new light rail lines — including one to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport — as well as expanding commuter rail and bus rapid transit.
These planned investments come with big price tags. The I-35 rebuild, by some estimates, will cost about $8 billion; Project Connect, meanwhile, is budgeted for $7.1 billion — both hefty price tags for a metropolitan region of only 2.3 million people. For projects this costly, Austinites deserve reassurance that they’re getting their money’s worth.
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