Sunday, May 13, 2012

Trolley Project Could Get $90M in TxDOT Funds

Latest Update: City Council has approved $1.2 Million for the environmental study, which must be completed by the end of September.

Previous Update: El Paso Inc. is also reporting on this story. El Pasoan Ted Houghton, chair of the Texas Transportation Commission, cannot speak in detail about the project until the environmental project is complete, but states that he is a fan of the idea. The story also indicates that El Paso's trolley system had 63 miles of tracks, 100 streetcars, and 17 routes at its peak many decades ago.

El Paso Inc. article: http://www.elpasoinc.com/news/local_news/article_7a035396-9af2-11e1-a30c-001a4bcf6878.html

Original Post:
According to an upcoming City Council agenda item, the Texas Department of Transportation could give the city $90 Million in state funds to complete the Downtown to UTEP trolley project that City officials have been wishing for for years. The funding is contingent upon the City approving $4 Million for the environmental study and design process for the rail line, which is set for a vote at the May 15, 2012 City Council meeting. Details first came to light in a story at KVIA.com.
This study route uses both Stanton and Mesa Streets.
The environmental study must be completed by September 31, 2012, and the design must be completed by February of 2013. The trolley route the city is focusing on would utilize Stanton and Kansas Streets, and would travel from the Santa Fe bridge to the UTEP/Cincinnati district. A Bus-Rapid-Transit route is already planned for the Oregon Street corridor and may be why the City is looking to Stanton for the streetcar project.
Oregon Corridor concept in Plan El Paso.
A study funded by the City a few years back has shown that a trolley could show up to a 11 to 1 return on investment, despite the high cost per mile for construction and maintenance. Streetcar systems in other cities have shown to increase positive perception from tourists and can easily transform the corridors they serve.

Previously: Push for Trolley System Re-Emerges

City Council Agenda item to approve environmental study (PDF): http://www.elpasotexas.gov/muni_clerk/agenda/05-15-12/05151210.pdf
KVIA Story: http://www.kvia.com/news/31045299/detail.html
Cambridge Systematics Study: http://50.22.88.223/~epmpo/Rail/RailTransitStudy.pdf

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