VIA approves first phase of street car project

Construction to get underway late 2015, early 2016

SAN ANTONIO - VIA's board of trustees approved a new version of a Downtown streetcar route on Tuesday night.

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The version, Option 2, would still travel mainly on Broadway and St. Mary's Street going North to South, but it also goes West.

"We have a very heavy confluence of transit passengers coming from the West, the Northwest and the North," said Jeffery Arndt, VIA President & CEO.  "That system captures those riders and downtown and distributes them through downtown."

Option 2 not only connects north, south, and west,  it also meets the $185 million threshold.

"That first phase is fully affordable with all the local funds that we currently have in hand," said Arndt. "We have 100% confidence that this can be built with the dollars we have in hand."

Arndt said the next step is to bring in federal funding to help build out the remainder of the full system, which when completed will have frequent stops, meaning less wait time for the rider.

"That's one of the advantages of and characteristics of a streetcar project as we have here in the planning stages," said Charlie Gonzalez, VIA's Chief of Public Engagement. "Hopefully, someday, you'll go out there, you won't wait, but a couple of minutes, maybe five, maybe six or whatever, but you'll be getting a street car to take you to your destination."

Before VIA can get federal funding, the project has to go through the environmental process, getting clearance by NEPA.

VIA will also have to refine their cost estimates for the project.

That process could take all summer.

Construction is expected to get underway in late 2015 or early 2016 and the entire system is expected to be up by 2017.

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