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Via Approves Streetcar Route

Via Approves Streetcar Route

  The Via Metro Transit board, with three of it's ten members abstaining due to financial interests along the route, voted Tuesday night to force taxpayers to build the most expensive of the six proposed routes for that wildly unpopular downtown streetcar, 1200 WOAI news reprots.

 

  It is far from the final vote on the plan, Via could alter the plan and still must give final approval to the $280 million project.

 

  Three Via members said they could not vote because they have a financial stake in property near the approved route, something that streetcar opponent George Rodriguez says should give everybody pause.

 

  "That alone ought to tell you how much of a boondoggle this is, if the board members themselves find themselves in conflict of interest," Rodriguez said.

 

  Via board members say the streetcar will help transform downtown into a vibrant residential and shopping area, with the streetcar snaking from the Pearl Brewery on lower Broadway, down to Martin Street, west to Santa Rosa, and down Cesar Chavez to the Alamodome.

 

  Additional portions may be added tot he streetcar line before final approval is granted to the route.

 

  Rodriguez says local citizens have voted twice against the proposal, and points out that the only way the city was able to get its bond proposal passed in May of 2012 was by posting large disclaimers on all bond issue materials stressing that 'none of the money would be used for Via's streetcar project.'

 

  He says the only option available now is to recall some of the officials who appointed the Via board, including Mayor Julian Castro.

 

  "If his head falls, then we can get rid of the Via Board members who voted for this agaisnt the will of the people," he said.

 

  The plan now is to begin construction on the first phase of the streetcar in 2015, with it operating by 2017.

 

  The project is already $70 million over budget, even before one shovel of dirt is turned.  Via board members say they will ask the federal government for additional funding, and will ask downtown businesses to help pay the difference, something they have previously refused to do.

 

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