Highland Neighborhood Association endorses Guadalupe-Lamar for urban rail15 November 2013
On November 4th, the effort to designate the Guadalupe-Lamar (G-L) corridor as the preferred route for urban rail (light rail transit, LRT) received yet another powerful surge of support with the endorsement of the Highland Neighborhood Association (HNA). As the map at top shows, the western boundary of the Highland Neighborhood is mostly North Lamar Boulevard and Midtown Commons; its northern boundary is U.S. 183; and its southern boundary includes both Denson Drive and a segment of Airport Boulevard encompassing the Highland campus of Austin Community College.
Highland is an important component of the ridership “watershed” for public transportation on the east side of North Lamar, and this would include the Guadalupe-Lamar (G-L) route proposed for urban rail (light rail transit). The Highland neighborhood should not be confused with Project Connect’s “Highland” sector (“sub-corridor”), which usurps the name but has only a very minimal geographical relationship.
The HNA’s endorsement resolution includes a number of “whereas” clauses that spell out the case for endorsing the G-L corridor as the priority route for urban rail. For example, it states, “residents of the Highland Neighborhood are often deprived of access to the employment, cultural, and educational centers along the Guadalupe – North Lamar Corridor due to traffic congestion ….”
The resolution goes on to document the HNA’s legal and regulatory authority for taking its position on urban rail:
… the Highland Neighborhood Association is a signatory of the Brentwood-Highland Combined Neighborhood Plan, City of Austin Ordinance 040513-30, a planning area with a population of 11,738, in which Highland residents took part in extensive light rail planning for specific alignment and station placement along North Lamar Blvd. up to the North Lamar Transit Center and providing for light-rail to commuter rail transfers at Crestview station;
… several other neighborhood plans have planned light rail along the Guadalupe-North Lamar corridor such as the Central Austin Combined Neighborhood Plan, City of Austin Ordinance 040826-56, Crestview-Wooten Combined Neighborhood Plan, City of Austin Ordinance 040513-30, Hyde Park Neighborhood Plan, City of Austin Ordinance 000413-63, and the North Loop Neighborhood Plan,
City of Austin Ordinance 020523-30
… the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan, City of Austin Ordinance 20120614-058 incorporates the aforementioned existing neighborhood plans and designates North Lamar Blvd and Guadalupe Street as High Capacity Transit Corridors in its Growth Concept Map …
HNA presents as its justification for officially endorsing Guadalupe-Lamar “a poll taken of Highland residents on the HNA website on September 22…” posing the question, “Should Urban Rail hit the Guadalupe-Lamar corridor or Mueller?” The resolution notes that the results were “a 97% response for Guadalupe Lamar and 3% for Mueller ….”
With this background of procedural and factual substantiation, the HNA board comes down irmly on the side of a “first investment in light rail” that “must serve as an expandable backbone of rapid transit”, which means “an alignment is most suited along North Lamar Blvd. and Guadalupe Street” with a northern terminus “terminated at or near the North Lamar Transit Center….” This, the resolution makes clear, definitely means “a phase one locally preferred alternative” with light rail service connecting “the densely populated and diverse communities of North Central Austin to the cultural, residential, and employment centers of the University of Texas, the Capitol Complex, and Downtown Austin”:
BE IT RESOLVED, the Highland Neighborhood Association believes that any first investment in light rail must serve as an expandable backbone of rapid transit, and such an alignment is most suited along North Lamar Blvd. and Guadalupe Street and terminated at or near the North Lamar Transit Center; and,
BE IT RESOLVED, the Highland Neighborhood Association supports a phase one locally preferred alternative to include light rail service that connects the densely populated and diverse communities of North Central Austin to the cultural, residential, and employment centers of the University of Texas, the Capitol Complex, and Downtown Austin; and,
BE IT RESOLVED, the Highland Neighborhood Association supports light rail planning to utilize the area under elevated 183 for transit purposes including and not limited to the maintenance of a park and ride, and to stimulate Transit Oriented Development along its service roads.
This extremely significant endorsement of central Austin’s most important potential corridor for urban rail by one of the city’s most important neighborhood associations also has political implications that hopefully will not go unnoticed by local officials and decisionmakers.
The full resolution can be found here: