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Streetcar opponents to file petition Tuesday

Group wants public vote on controversial project

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SAN ANTONIO – A group opposed to VIA's modern streetcar project said Monday that it will file a petition to derail the controversial project Tuesday morning.

Officials with the Streetcar Vote Coalition said the group has collected more than 25,000 signatures from residents who oppose the $280 million project, enough to get a spot on the November ballot.

The petition calls for a change the city charter to require the city to seek voter approval before granting VIA right-of-way for any streetcar or light rail project. Coalition member Jeff Judson said tax payers deserve a vote on the issue.

"(VIA) is using $92 million of money that was supposed to be spent on road expansion to build the streetcar," Judson said. "All of the roads that are getting congested out in the suburbs are now going to become more congested."

So far, Councilmen Joe Krier, Mike Gallagher, Joe Krier, and Cris Medina have publicly advocated for a vote. The coalition also has the support of the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association. The group held block-walking events to collect signatures.

State Rep. Lyle Larson of San Antonio has also thrown his support behind the referendum.

"Ninety percent of people in Bexar County are opposed to it. All the polling shows that its universally disliked. They want roads built they want additional capacity. They don't want the streetcar," the San Antonio Republican said during a hearing of the Transportation Funding, Expenditures & Finance, Select Committee.

City officials believe they have already won this fight. City attorney Robert Greenblum said any change to the city's charter will only affect future projects.

Larson has threatened to file a bill prohibiting Texas Department of Transportation from funding any streetcar projects in Texas. He said the bill would be retroactive and include VIA's streetcar project.