Austin rail in context of city’s growth

Those of you who have lived in Austin for a while have probably noticed our city’s recent growth. It’s no hidden fact. Austin frequently tops lists tracking America’s fastest growing cities. In fact, according to Austin Demographer Ryan Robinson, an average of 110 people move into our city per day (net arrivals per day). This growth has not yet leveled off. From 2011-2016, Austin is projected to have 6.1 percent economic growth and 2.8 percent projected population growth rate. It currently ranks as the 11th largest city in the U.S., moving up from 13th place in 2012. Granted, this popularity should not come as a surprise — with sunny weather, clear skies, and the best live music, who wouldn’t want to live in Austin.  

Although many welcome Austin’s transformation into a larger metropolis, the recent trajectory of growth in the city brings to light questions regarding infrastructure and urban planning. Does Austin have the infrastructure to support the current population inflow? Will the city’s growth be sustainable? And how can Austin plan for a continued influx of residents moving in? 

The answer is not so clear, particularly considering Austin’s relative lack of public transport. To shed some light on the issue, this week’s Forum page focuses on the Texas Transportation Funding Amendment, Proposition 1, which will be on the ballot on November 4, 2014. If passed, the measure would not only authorize the city to borrow $600 million for a 9.5-mile Highland Mall-to-East Riverside light rail route, but would also give the city authority to spend $400 million for road projects. The rail has been proposed with the hope of taking some cars off of the city’s clogged roads, but it will cost our city automobile lanes and hundreds of parking spaces downtown.

Below you will find a point/counterpoint focusing on the Austin rail. One piece argues in support of the Proposition 1 rail and another argues against the measure. Regardless of where your opinion on the issue lies, be sure cast your ballot on the issue in the upcoming election. Early voting starts on Oct. 20 and ends on Oct. 31

Malik is a business honors, Plan II and finance senior from Austin.