Austin could lease its airport to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for urban rail under a proposal that Mayor Lee Leffingwell and top city officials have been quietly exploring for more than six months.
Leffingwell said the initiative holds the promise of paying for both the construction and the ongoing operating costs of a first phase of an electric-powered rail line between downtown and the University of Texas and possibly to the Mueller area in East Austin. Depending on how such a deal is structured, and how much rail the city decides to build initially, Leffingwell said neither a city bond election nor federal money might be needed to start construction.
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