North Corridor Study: Central Texas’ Fastest Growing Corridor
With rapid growth for decades in and around Williamson County and northern Travis County down to the river, the geographic “center of population” in the Central Texas region is actually between Austin and Round Rock. For this reason, a top priority following completion of Project Connect
was to initiate the North Corridor study of alternatives to link Georgetown, Round Rock and Pflugerville and other communities with central Austin. Of the 100 most congested roadways in Texas, six are located in the North Corridor, which is expected to be home to half the region’s people and more than half of its jobs by 2035.
North Corridor Study In Depth
Traffic congestion in the North Corridor costs everyone time and money, diminishes our quality of life, and continues to increase as Central Texas grows and as funding for solutions becomes more stretched.
Project Connect: North Corridor, conducted from 2012-2104, studied alternatives for improving transportation within and between central and north Austin and the cities of Pflugerville, Round Rock, Georgetown, Hutto and others. A key aspect of this study effort is that a substantial portion of the study area
lies outside of the Capital Metro service area. As such, working closely with partners jurisdictions to develop the plan was essential, and similarly implementing the plan will require funding beyond the resources currently available to Capital Metro.
With federal funding, the North Corridor team began its alternatives analysis in June 2012 by collecting public input on the issues facing the corridor. Over the next 24 months, communities and stakeholders were engaged in the planning effort in a variety of ways, including the formation of a stakeholder
advisory group and technical team with representation from a broad cross-section of public and private stakeholders. The extensive public engagement effort proved to be critical to gaining support for the plan, and resulted in the effort recently being one of only eight national recipients of the Federal Department of Transportation’s 2015
Planning Excellence Awards.
The North Corridor study included four major steps
- Identify transportation problems and issues within the corridor (“purpose and need”)
- Determine reasonable and feasible alternatives to address those problems
- Analyze, evaluate and refine alternatives
- Select a locally preferred alternative (LPA)
Capital Metro, CAMPO, the Lone Star Rail District, and the cities of Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Georgetown, Hutto and other partners worked together to improve long-term mobility and accessibility in the North Corridor, support regional growth objectives and meet community needs by helping
- Gain more transportation options
- Have better access to affordable housing
- Connect to employment and education centers
- Create and sustain vibrant local communities
The Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for the North Corridor calls for several different types of services, including the extension of existing MetroRapid lines to Round Rock, Georgetown and Plfugerville; Express service linking Hutto and Pflugerville to Austin via the MoKan Corridor;
Connect bus service from Hutto to Round Rock, from Round Rock to Cedar Park, and from Manor to Tech Ridge and the emerging transit hub of Highland Mall; New Park & Ride facilities in Round Rock, Hutto, Pflugerville, Webberville, and more.
“Project Connect has partnered with communities in need of transit solutions to come up with a plan for the North Corridor that will provide more connectivity within Central Texas,” Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson said. “We now have a plan to develop real, attainable,
high-capacity transit tools that can give North Corridor commuters more options for getting around within this most congested area in our region.”
The projects in the LPA, which provides for a scalable and expandable transit network, can be completed in phases depending on funding sources. If completed fully, the LPA would cost an estimated $164 million, less than the cost of a typical highway interchange.
Capital Metro and the Project Connect team are currently working with communities and local governments to identify funding sources, conduct the necessary environmental studies and establish project timelines.
About the North Corridor:
- Half the population of Williamson and Travis counties will reside in the North Corridor by 2035. Four central Austin zip codes comprise the southern end of the North Corridor. By 2035, 55% of all jobs in the five-county region will be located in the North Corridor.
- From 2005 to 2035, the region’s population is forecasted to increase by 123 percent, with employment increasing by 135 percent.
- 14 of the 38 regional growth centers (areas with a dense mix of employment, housing, and retail) identified in the CAMPO 2035 plan are in the North Corridor.