Cap Metro's leading plan for The Drag would eliminate car traffic

The Drag, the stretch of Guadalupe Street in Austin near the University of Texas, might not be a drag at all in a few years if a new light rail project gets the green light. 

The Project Connect proposal is to remove car traffic in the area and some businesses aren't sure about the plan. Reactions are mixed on whether the plan would help or hurt business but most agree that traffic is a concern.

Cap Metro released new details about its plan to re-imagine the stretch of Guadalupe between 22nd and 29th Street. It's part of the 20-mile Orange Line light rail system from Tech Ridge to Slaughter Lane.

The leading option so far is one that would totally remove car traffic to accommodate the track, bus, and bike lanes as well as a widened sidewalk for pedestrians.

Addison Neikirk, owner of Trippy Buck Coffee, says she's a fan of the plan.

"Most of my business is from people walking up, so it would personally be great for me," Neikirk says. "I think it’s really interesting the idea to have Guadalupe opened up and have more pedestrian areas. I think it’d do a lot of good for the businesses."

That's not an opinion shared by everyone. One manager that spoke to FOX 7 Austin anonymously says it'll be too hard for driving customers to access his store. 

Then there's Dirty Martin's. The burger joint has been in business since 1926 and is one of the buildings that is slated to be demolished as part of the plan. The property is set to become a train stop but the owner is leading a petition drive to stop the project. That's something Denise Beard and Glenna Hamilton support.

"I think there will be a whole lot of people disappointed in that, because there are a whole lot of people that regularly come here," Hamilton says.

Aside from losing a beloved Austin restaurant, Hamilton and Beard are worried about the impact if no cars are allowed on the nearly mile-long Drag.

"I just don’t know how that’s gonna work around campus. It’s coming kind of far down here. I could maybe understand it closer to the campus," Beard says.

Hamilton adds, "I think it would be hard to get around this area. Students have cars too, they’re not just on bikes and walking."

Neikirk admits a new traffic pattern could be a nightmare.

"I think it’s gonna be a big streets on the smaller streets. Traffic is already kind of bad on the side streets and if you have to push the entirety of Guadalupe off that major roadway, where are all the people gonna go?" Neikirk says.

The proposal is just that, still a proposal. Cap Metro says it will hold more meetings and provide more update throughout the summer.

The Orange Line isn't expected to actually start running until 2030.