Thursday, June 26, 2014

El Paso streetcar plan gets state funding

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The Texas Transportation Commission dispensed $2.2 billion in funding Thursday, June 26, 2014, to numerous municipalities in the Lone Start State, including cities such as Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. But about $97 million will go to El Paso, Tex., for use in establishing a heritage streetcar operation.

City officials hope to begin construction of the 5.2-mile El Paso Trolley in August, according to local media. Current plans call for the line to run north from the bottom of Stanton Street near the Downtown area to the University of Texas at El Paso, loop the campus, and run back south on Oregon Street.

On Tuesday the City Council voted to begin renovation work on six President's Conference Committee (PCC) streetcars currently stored at El Paso International Airport. PCCs operated in El Paso from 1949 until 1974 (as shown in photo above). URS Corp. has been hired by the city for preliminary engineering and environmental review needed for the project, including PCC renovation.

Last August the City Council approved funds to advance streetcar system design through a $68 million bond package, based then on the lack of funding hoped for at that point from state sources. Two years ago the City Counil appropriated $4.5 million in local funding to undertake planning for the project.