The Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce announced that its Board of Directors had unanimously approved a resolution in support of the City of Austin’s Proposition A & B in the upcoming election. The ballot measures are related to Capital Metro’s Project Connect, a comprehensive transit plan with an estimated cost of $7.1 billion. Officials expect the federal government to pay about 45 percent of the cost, while the rest would be funded through the tax rate increase.
“It’s time to move Austin forward and plan for the future from climate to job creation,” Chase Kincannon, LGBT Board Chair, said, “Our essential workers and others must be able to get to their vital jobs safely and reliably. Project Connect will make this possible while helping ensure the continued prosperity of our region.”
The plan calls for Capital Metro to add a new rail system with three new rail lines; a transit tunnel downtown to improve on-time performance; expanded bus service with an all-electric fleet, four new MetroRapid routes, and three new MetroExpress commuter routes; plus nine new park & ride locations and a new transit center.
If approved by voters, the first step for Capital Metro would be to secure federal funding and complete the environmental review process. According to the agency’s timeline, construction on the Orange and Blue light rail lines would start in four years and take approximately five years to complete.
According to a press release, the “Austin LGBT Chamber believes these two ballot measures are vital to job creation, ensuring that we are doing our part to mitigate climate change and supporting accessibility and affordability efforts while providing a meaningful long-term investment for our community.”
WHEREAS, Central Texas has one of the most dynamic economies in the country and has experienced unprecedented growth in population and employment; and
WHEREAS, Central Texas lacks a significant regional transportation network to enable for jobs, affordability and increased economic opportunity; and
WHEREAS, Passing Project Connect in November is crucial to Austin’s future. We can no longer kick the can down the road. We must prepare for the additional two million people who will move here in the next 20 years. That will require a generational investment to create a system that is safer, cleaner, more efficient, and more equitable; and
WHEREAS, A comprehensive transit plan will mean fewer cars on the road, and Austinites who still choose to drive will end up in less traffic. Project Connect gives residents greater access to education, healthcare and higher paying jobs; and
WHEREAS, For Austin’s economy to continue to thrive, our essential workers–in healthcare, food service and supply chain, our firefighters and other first responders– must be able to get to their vital jobs and home again, safely and reliably; and
WHEREAS, Project Connect ensures that Austin’s essential workers will spend the majority of their time on the job, not struggling to get to the job. Project Connect will offer families of essential workers, if they choose, more options to get to work and home again; and
WHEREAS, Project Connect will create a cleaner system. We know the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation (epa.gov “sources of greenhouse gas emissions” ). We can make a significant impact on Austin’s carbon emissions by expanding our rail system, by creating an all-electric zero emissions bus fleet, establishing dedicated high-speed bus lanes, and in tandem with other projects, increasing the number of bike lanes, sidewalks and other options; and
WHEREAS, Achieving the kind of transformational change we need will require a meaningful investment — and that investment will result in massive benefits for our local economy. Over 9,700 new jobs will be created for every billion dollars invested in Project Connect according to a study conducted specifically on the local economic impacts; and
WHEREAS, Project Connect also directs significant funds ($300 million) to combat displacement and help stabilize neighborhoods from the start of the project. There will be funds available for affordable housing and land-banking at the very beginning. It will be the largest anti-displacement investment made in the country as part of a major transit expansion – in other words, Project Connect is the top progressive transit investment in the U.S.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors formally endorses the Project Connect Tax Rate election to fund the initial investment in the Project Connect System Plan, to be held on November 3rd, 2020, as an essential plan for Austin and an integral component of a regional mobility system.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors strongly urges the Austin City Council to put public policies in place that increase density and transit-oriented development along transit corridors to maximize taxpayer investment in the Project Connect System Plan. ADOPTED ON THIS 16th DAY OF SEPTEMBER 2020 BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE AUSTIN LGBT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE .