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SAN ANTONIO WOAI-- A $25 million federal grant will be sought as part of an electric streetcar project planned for San Antonio.
Bexar County Commissioners on Tuesday endorsed the VIA Metropolitan Transit proposal. County Judge Nelson Wolff says he is optimistic about securing the grant, with the application process beginning Wednesday.
The first stage would be a 2.2-mile stretch from the site of the former Pearl Brewery to the St. Mary's-Alamo intersection south of tourist-popular downtown San Antonio.
VIA President Keith Parker says that section would cost nearly $90 million and take two years to design and engineer, then two more years of construction.
The San Antonio Express-News reports the city would be asked to pay $17 million, as would the county. VIA has committed $20 million. An additional $10 million would be sought from private sources.
Steve Hawley, Aug 04, 09.
San Antonio officials are looking to break ground on a streetcar system in the next two to three years, according to the San Antonio Express-News. However, the project faces some obstacles, including finding funding sources and choosing a specific route.
While the idea of streetcars in San Antonio is in its infancy, [VIA Metropolitan Transit chairman Henry Muñoz] envisions lines running both north-south and east-west, connecting some of the city’s great cultural centers, sports facilities and public institutions. From Mission San José, a line could run north, to the southern border of Alamo Heights. And a perpendicular line could run from the AT&T Center on the East Side to Our Lady of the Lake University on the West Side.
The city is looking to duplicate Portland’s success. According to the article, the four-mile Portland streetcar line, which opened in 2001, has generated $3.5 billion within two blocks of the track, including “more than 10,000 new housing units and 5.4 million square feet of office space.”
The officials say that the streetcar system has political support, and that public opinion is shifting in favor of the project as well. Advocates also say that the system could lead to light rail and commuter rail in a city typically skeptical of transit and density.
For now, San Antonio is the largest city in the country without any kind of rail system - a title Houston held until the Main Street line opened in 2004.
(Photo credit: cacophony)