$97-million trolley project could get TxDot funding

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - 6:21pm

State officials are hoping to get the green light on the long-awaited trolley project.
A man dressed as a trolley conductor is going door-to-door in El Paso gathering signatures for the Downtown street car project. And Weston Sanders is just one of the thousands who have signed a petition to bring back street cars to the Sun City. "I think it would be a nice addition to the city. It's a part of El Paso's history,” Weston Sanders, a Kern Place resident explained.

Alex, the trolley conductor, is the mascot for the El Paso Transnational Trolley Project, a group of citizens who have been working to bring back street cars which, they claim, will help with El Paso's revitalization. "A way to market the city as well as a way to keep young, educated people in communities as well as attracting them,” Peter Svarzbein, a long-time trolley proponent explained.

On Thursday, the Texas Transportation Commission will decide whether to fund the $97-million trolley project. TxDot is hoping to push the project through, along with other transportation projects across the state totaling $2.2-billion. State Rep. Joe Picket is not opposed to bringing trolleys back to El Paso.
But, in a letter to the commission, said, there more pressing projects that need funding first. Among them, adding more lanes to I-10 and Loop 375 -- and widening spur 601 and U.S. 54.

"A lot of these projects are not shovel ready. This street car project is shovel ready and ready to go,” Svarzbein claimed.

That will be up for the commission to decide but supporters are cautiously optimistic. Hoping a bit of El Paso's past -- could one day return. "One of the things that excites me about the trolley is the fact that I'd be able to take my nephews on the trolley,” Sanders said.

If the project gets the green light Thursday, TxDot could be breaking ground as early as August, completion is slated for 2018.


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