Austin is one step closer to getting a new light rail system, and it’s really about time. For years, residents heard that construction would begin only to see no new advancements. However, delays and plan changes keep pushing back the timeline. This, coupled with other construction around the city, made some residents believe that this would never happen. However, after a year, Dutch company Fugro finished work on their year-long geotechnical investigation. This will help develop the light rail and move the project into its next phase.
Fugro is a company on the cutting edge of technology. They don’t just take soil samples. They use a cloud-based geo data engagement platform to help them finalize their information. This data goes through multiple cross examinations to get the clearest readings and most precise information. With this research, they can confidently work with construction company HNTB to begin design and construction on the new light rail transit tunnel.
It doesn’t sound like much. After all, they haven’t even finalized designs, let alone begun construction, but this is a big step. Geological surveys are important for any new construction project and are often the longest cause of delays. Fugro characterized the site’s soil structure using geotechnical and geophysical methods to help architects and designers understand what they’re working with. Imagine wanting to build a go-cart but you have no idea if you’re using wood, metal, or spare parts from another go-cart. Understanding what the materials are helps the designers make the safest and most efficient designs.
The main plans for the tunnel are already set. Maybe not the architectural plans, but they know where the tunnel should reach. It will go from downtown, from Republic Square to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. This 8-mile stretch should help commuters have a new and inexpensive way to reach the airport, similar to the train lines in Washington, DC. A new station will help serve the line under 4th and Trinity Streets.
There is still a lot of work to do but at least they can now move forward. The delays in this project are a thing of the past. Once HNTB gathers the data and implements it into their project, we should see some timelines. These timelines will finally give the general public an idea of when the light rail will open for public use. Soon, Austin residents will have one more reason to utilize the subway system and keep the growing traffic to a minimum.