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VIA Board OK's Streetcar Route

by Elizabeth Ruiz

Plans for a $280 million streetcar project are rolling along after the VIA Metropolitan Transit board approved a 2.9 mile route Tuesday evening.

The vote was 6-0, with three members recusing themselves because of possible conflicts of interest, and a board member was absent.

VIA still lacks $70 million for the project, but Charlie Gonzalez, chief of public engagement, told 550 KTSA News he's confident they can get the state and federal funds for the project.

"We're not going to spend more money than we have in hand.  Right now that's about $210 million, which would be sufficient for a part of the overall system," said Gonzalez.

The project would be constructed in phases.

"You would have one phase totally operational and functional before proceeding to the next phase," said Gonzalez.

Don't expect to see construction begin anytime soon.

"The next step is getting environmental clearance and that would take about a year," said Gonzalez.

He predicts the first phase of construction probably will begin in two years.

Streetcar opponents are predicting a backlash at the ballot box.   George Rodriguez with South Texas Alliance for Progress told 550 KTSA News the streetcar project is giving them more ammunition as they collect petition signatures to recall Mayor Julian Castro.

He says some groups are looking to back city council candidates who would oust the  VIA trustees .

"I have every confidence that our candidates  will win.  We are going to clean house at VIa.  That's all there is to it," said Rodriguez

While the streetcar project has been approved, Rodriguez says "the battle is far from over."

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Topics : Environment
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Locations : South Texas
People : Charlie GonzalezGeorge RodriguezJulian Castro
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