El Paso, TX — State Funding Awarded
The Railway Age site reported that the state of Texas has approved funding for a heritage streetcar line at El Paso and it notes that the Ctiy Council has authorized rehabilitation of six stored PCC streamliners.
The city has been waiting for some time for the state grant and has now received $97 million for resuming streetcar service.
City officials anticipate beginning construction of the 5.2-mile line in August, according to local press reports. Plans call for the line to run north from the downtown end of Stanton Street to the University of Texas at El Paso, loop the campus, and then come back south on Oregon Street.
On June 24 the City Council approved rebuilding of six stored PCC streetcars which operated on the international line to Ciudad Juarez from 1949 until 1974. The cars have been stored at the El Paso airport for decades but due to the desert climate are in surprisingly good shape despite the continuous weather exposure.
In August 2013 the Council agreed to fund streetcar design work from proceeds of a $68 million bond sale, following a $4.5 million planning grant two years earlier.
The Voxxi.com site reported further on the movement to preserve El Paso's PCCs since they last ran nearly 40 years ago.
Raul Apodaca, owner of a streetcar located at S Mesa St and E 3rd Ave in downtown El Paso, says he bought it in from the City in 1996 and has been longing for the moment he would be able to ride again.
Artist and activist Peter Svarzbein has the same goal. Svarzbein is the Program Coordinator for El Paso Transnational Trolley Project – a movement aiming to bring back trolleys to the Sun City. According to the group's web site:
“El Paso had has a long history of electric streetcar use. For almost 100 years (1902-1974), a streetcar was a vital connection between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.”
“At one point, the El Paso Streetcar had over 63 miles of track covering nearly every facet of the El Paso. There were as many as 500 trips a day between El Paso and Juarez. In many ways, it defined and shaped the historic neighborhoods like Segundo Barrio, Manhattan Heights, Sunsets Heights and Kern Place. It was a system that brought our city together with wonderful stories that our parents and grandparents can still vividly recall.”