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As VIA Chair Flees, Streetcar Problems Grow

As VIA Chair Flees, Streetcar Problems Grow

  As Henry Munoz, who spearheaded that effort to build a modern streetcar downtown, heads for the exits, pressure is building on the VIA Metro Transit board of directors to rethink the project, 1200 WOAI news reports.

 

  The latest threat to the streetcar plan is a call by State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) for the Texas Attorney General to investigate what she calls a 'disturbing violation of the people's trust.'

 

  "VIA is now attempting to use Advanced Transportation District sales tax revenue to back the public issuance of revenue bonds to fund its streetcar project terminals," Campbell said.  "Based on the 2004 election results, this represents a violation of the 'contract with the voters' as defined by Article I, Section 16 of the Texas Constitution.  Deceptively, VIA does not acknowledge the ATD-backed bonds will fund the streetcar project, but two major items it lists are integral parts of the streetcar project.  Renderings of these transit stations clearly show details associated with streetcars."

 

  Campbell also blasts VIA For agreeing to build a $280 million 'modern streetcar' project downtown, while only having $210 million in the bank, and for allegedly taking federal funds earmarked for a 'more comprehensive bus system as an alternative to the downtown streetcar system despite taking federal funds for that purpose.'

 

  A spokeswoman for VIA was not immediately available for comment.

 

  In her letter to Attorney General Greg Abbott, Campbell claims that VIA 'has chosen to ignore the contract it made with the voters and insists on going forward with a dubious project at huge costs to taxpayers.'

 

  VIA has already engaged in a 'money swap' with the Texas Department of Transportation to avoid using ATD money for the streetcar itself, but ATD funds would be used to build the Westside Multimodal Transit Center and the Robert Thompson Transit Center, both of which would be part of the streetcar plan.

 

  "The sales tax money should be used for its intended purpose, to improve San Antonio's roads," Campbell wrote the Attorney General.

 

  The streetcar plan is sol wildly unpopular that even the City of San Antonio, which has invested in the project, felt obligated to print on all of the literature distributed to support the 2012 city bond issue that 'none of the money in the bond issue would be used for 'VIA's' streetcar project.

 

  This is only one of the potential problems facing VIA as the streetcar plan continues falling apart.  There is also a call for a U.S. Justice Department probe into VIA's refusal to place the issue up for a public vote.

 

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