Dear Fellow CCAG Members,
I want to let you know my plans for our meeting today, so that you are not caught off-guard, and to seek your support for the following:
As you are probably expecting by now, I’d like to ask CCAG to advance the Lamar sub-corridor to Phase 2, along with Highland and East Riverside. We need a true apples-to-apples comparison of our highest-potential *routes* using FTA criteria. We need time to get clear answers from the FTA on the actual implications of MetroRapid, not just hearsay and fearful assumptions. And we need to acknowledge and respect the strong public support for the Lamar sub-corridor and at least *find out* how a Lamar sub-corridor route would stack up against a Highland sub-corridor route under FTA criteria.
Maybe a Lamar sub-corridor route would rate less favorably than a Highland sub-corridor route in the eyes of the FTA. If you believe it would, you should want to demonstrate that to the Lamar advocates and gain their support for a Highland route, for a bond election that will need all the votes it can get under the best of circumstances. At this stage in our Central Corridor study, however, having only studied sub-corridors in Phase 1 and not actual routes, I don’t think any of us can be certain an ERC-Highland route would trump an ERC-Lamar route. Let’s bring the Lamar sub-corridor into Phase 2 and find out.
Remember, comparative political support data are still data. I’ve wished all along we could have comprehensive political polling on Austinites’ sub-corridor preferences. In its absence, though, we have to take into consideration what public support data we do have, and that consistently points to Lamar. The Project Connect technical team can’t take that data into account for their recommendation, but we, as decision-makers, can for ours. To make this transit investment a reality, we need funding from the FTA, yes, but we also need funding from the voters. If we want a successful bond election, let’s harness (or at least not outright dismiss) the strong grassroots enthusiasm for the Lamar sub-corridor. Let’s advance Lamar into Phase 2 of our study along with East Riverside and Highland.
Thanks, and see you soon,
Julie Montgomery, MPAff
Executive Committee Member, Austinites for Urban Rail Action (AURA)
Board Member, Davis-Thompson Neighborhood Association (DTNA)