Capital Metro announced Thursday it would be received more than $11 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help strengthen Austin’s rail systems.
The money comes as part of $474 million the DOT is distributing to 37 states for dozens of transportation projects.
Locally, Capital Metro will be using its money to revamp much of the rail services offered. Part of it will go towards MetroRail, extending its service hours and increasing the speed and number of trains which will carry commuters.
“When you live in one of America’s fastest growing cities like Austin, you get used to rapid changes,” Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary, said. “No one wants to get used to traffic jams and long wait times and to the challenges that come when you have the kind of explosive growth of a place like Austin."
Cedar Park resident Brad Smith says Austin is behind the times compared to other cities. He commutes to work downtown every day.
"I've been to Atlanta three times and they have a rail system,” he said. “Man, it’s phenomenal."
Rail improvements include a second parallel track, so both freight and passenger trains can run at the same time.
"With those sidings, it allows us to put cars off the track so that main service can move right on through,” Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez said.
The work is expected to begin around 2015 with the first additional riders boarding in 2016.
“We can always use more money,” CapMetro CEO Linda Watson said. “But this is a great start to make some pretty significant improvements."
Two other Texas cities -- Houston and El Paso -- also received transportation grants.