A new rail line between San Antonio and Austin is gaining support. Anyone who has driven between San Antonio and Austin knows full well that traffic can be overwhelming, especially for a daily commute. It’s been said that A proposed new commuter train could divert 10% of I-35’s weekly traffic and provide the ultimate convenience to those who frequently travel between the cities. One of the planned hubs for the commuter train would be on the South Side near Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Students could take the train all the way to Georgetown, with stops at UTSA’s downtown campus, Loop 410 at the airport, Texas State University in San Marcos and downtown Austin.
If San Antonio City Council approves a line-item budget amendment this month of nearly $500,000 for the rail district, the connection between San Antonio and Georgetown may be on track. Here’s what supporters have to offer:
Joe Black, Lone Star Rail District Director –
“San Antonio’s support will allow us to accelerate the public-private partnership. We want to be ready to award a contract after the environmental impact statement decision. All the work has been done using federal and state grants at this point … those run out after awhile. It’s never a sure thing that you’re going to get several million dollars laid on you when you ask. If the environmental impact statement comes back by 2017, design would start in 2018 and construction could begin in 2019 or 2020. I think it would take between two and three years to do the entire thing.
It would do a few really beneficial things for commuters. It’s a lot more reliable than the highway. It will actually be faster during peak times to take the train than to drive. There are 300,000 students, faculty and staff that could take advantage of that transportation mode. It’s not a panacea, but it can do a lot to change how think about living and working.
Peter Zanoni, a San Antonio Deputy City Manager –
The rail agency is asking the city for a 36-year funding commitment to be met in part using property taxes. The city is behind the project but is taking a cautious approach, leaving itself an out in case leaders decide they don’t like the way it turns out.
A commuter train connecting San Antonio to the college enclave of San Marcos and various smaller cities in between would drastically change the face of transportation in South Central Texas, allowing college students to easily move through the corridor and provide work commuters a way to avoid seemingly constant road nightmares.
Rebecca Viagran, San Antonio Councilwoman –
I think we’re closer now than we’ve ever been and I think we’ve had more people being serious about it. This will open up opportunities for students to go to Texas State and back-and-forth up the line. It will open up … freedom of mobility to get from the southern sector to downtown to north of San Antonio in just a matter of minutes without concern. We know it’s long investment, but it’s an investment for generations.
For condo residents at Alteza in downtown San Antonio, the choice between Austin and San Antonio was clear. Strong real estate values, convenient Grand Hyatt hotel services, floor-to-ceiling glass and modern architecture and life within walking distance of Hemisfair, the Tobin Center and Southtown’s popular restaurants and bars. With the addition of light rail on the horizon, commuting to the airport or downtown Austin may soon be as carefree as living in luxury above the City of San Antonio.
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