Austin's Urban Rail proposal fails

One of the most controversial measures on the ballot was defeated by a significant margin. Austin voters rejected the city's Urban Rail proposal.

Members of Citizens Against Rail Taxes Political Action Committee were pleased with the results.

"Very different groups organized throughout the community worked together to defeat this rail, which was obviously turned down by the voters," said Jim Skaggs, treasurer of CART PAC.

"Well it's disappointing; we've worked really, really hard. We spent you know three to five years trying to get something on the ballot that will start addressing our traffic problems and, you know, it's sad," said Linda Rife with the Let's Go Austin PAC.

CART members say they opposed the Urban Rail because it was not cost effective and would not do enough to solve Austin's traffic problem.

"It's not cost effective because it takes almost all of the bond capacity of the city, almost all of the transportation funds of the city, and serves a minuscule, less than one quarter of one percent, of the daily travelers," said Skaggs.

The $1.4 billion project would have created a 9.5 mile long rail. $400 million of the proposal would go towards road and transportation projects around the city and CART members said the rail would only serve a small number of commuters.

"Those folks, which were part of our conglomerate that were against it, who stated this was the worst route possible are correct," said Skaggs.

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said when voters rejected Proposition One they left the city with a big problem.

"We're going to feel the stress in this city. We're already the fourth most congested city in the country. We'll double in population, the region will, by 2040, we'll have 4 million people here," said Leffingwell.

CART members agree that something needs to be done, but they say Prop One was not the right solution.

"A train is not an alternative to congestion. Train is a transit alternative and it's not a good transit alternative. We need to get a cost effective transit system and we need to get a cost effective road system," said Skaggs.

This isn't the first time Austin voters rejected a rail bond. In 2000 the city put forth another rail proposal. That was also voted down.

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