El Paso, TX — Still Awaiting $90 Million
The city of El Paso in west Texas still is awaiting state money to build a five-mile, $90 million heritage streetcar line that would link downtown with the University of Texas-El Paso campus, the El Paso Inc site reports. The plan is to use replica streetcars and at least one rehabilitated PCC from the El Paso City Lines (National City Lines) international car line between El Paso and Juarez, Mexico, that was abandoned suddenly in 1973. The city attempted a truncated operation on the U.S. side of the border but its was unsuccessful and was suspended in 1974.
Two years ago, City Council agreed to spend $4.7 million to design the streetcar system and complete environmental and engineering studies. In return, the Texas Transportation Commission Chairman said he would find $90 million to build the line. However, there has been no specific feedback although there was some indication funding might become available in the fall.
The streetcars would run north on Stanton Street and return south on Oregon Street.
The five-mile route would start near the Paso Del Norte port of entry in Downtown, pass through the historic, arts, entertainment and shopping districts, by El Paso Community College’s Rio Grande Campus and loop around the University of Texas at El Paso.
The operations and mainenance center would be built at the intersection of Santa Fe and 3rd streets on a parking lot adjoining the downtown bus station. One of the six El Paso PCC cars stored at the airport (photo below) would be rebuilt along with a fleet of replica cars. Officials estimate that new replica cars would cost less than rebuilding more of the stored cars.
A 2010 study by Cambridge Systematics put the value of economic development sparked by the streetcar as up to $1 billion.