Monday, November 19, 2012

Fiscal juggling aids San Antonio streetcar plan

Written by 

A funding plan tapping Texas state dollars in a fiscal swap will free $92 million for San Antonio's proposed streetcar, being advanced by VIA Metropolitan Transit.

The Texas Transportation Commission approved redirecting the state funding, previously set aside for a San Antonio-area road project, to the proposed streetcar. The move allows a reciprocal action by Bexar County, Tex., to target $92 million in Advanced Transportation District sales tax revenue for the road projects.

The swap is being made to circumvent any restrictions on funding in San Antonio for light rail transit (LRT), which is opposed by some in the city. The opponents have argued that streetcars qualify as LRT, prompting backers to seek a funding source less vulnerable to legal obstruction.

The first public meeting on the streetcar proposal is scheduled for Nov. 28.

san antonio via logoIn October 2011 the San Antonio City Council approved plans for the line, committing $40 million to the overall project, which is to be shared by the city, Bexar County, and VIA Metropolitan Transit.

San Antonio, with a population of about 1.33 million, is the largest city in Texas without an urban rail transit system.