Wednesday, August 28, 2013

El Paso eludes streetcar funding snafu

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The El Paso, Tex. City Council has voted to pay for streetcar design through a $68 million bond package, contingent on the lack of funding expected from the Texas Department of Transportation.

Last year, the City Council approved the project's design phase, expecting $90 million in TexDOT funding, but TexDOT so far has not delivered the funds. The streetcar project would tap $5 million of the $68 million.

The Council's backup bond plan would be sold to investors next month. "That debt will continue and it will be financed now," Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria, El Paso's CFO, told local media. "Now, we're basically issuing the debt associated with the project."

Plans call for restored Presidents' Conference Committee (PCC) streetcars, once a mainstay in El Paso (photo above). As well, El Paso and Juarez, Mexico, were linked by streetcar service until the early 1970s, with both cities hopeful of re-establishing some kind of cross-border rail link.