San Antonio — Streetcar Network Approved
The VIA Metropolitan Transit board gave its approval Tuesday to a modern streetcar network proposed for the Texas city, known as the home of the Alamo historic site, River Walk, and other tourist attractions. San Antonio, with a population of 1.3 million, is the seventh largest U.S. city and the second largest in Texas. San Antonio Express-News reports some VIA board members recused themselves from the streetcar vote because of conflict of interest. The board voted unanimously in favor of a 5.9-mile, $280 million streetcar system that could be operational in 2017.
Despite vocal opposition from some parties to abandon the project, the transit authority board voted to build a 5.9-mile, $280 million streetcar system that would cost $8.5 million a year to operate. The network chosen is the longest and costliest of the route options considered.
The agency has $210 million of the $280 million project in its budget from state and local sources. This is a much higher percentage than many similar projets in other cities across the country. VIA would only need to pursue $70 million from federal sources if current cost estimates hold.
Though the board endorsed the north-south and east-west corridors some changes to the routing could still be made.
Project leaders hope that construction will start in 2015 in preparation for a 2017 beginning of streetcar service.