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Streetcar Proponents Push Forward, Opponents Keep Up The Fight

VIA Metropolitan Transit

The back and forth on VIA's proposed modern streetcar continued Thursday night at a meeting to gather public input; the system is on track to launch in 2017, but many people are determined to derail the idea.

The proposed downtown system for San Antonio involves five miles of rail with one route traveling north to south through downtown, and the other east to west. Like most of the exact details involving the system, it's yet to be determined where the embedded rails and overhead powerlines would go.

"We have six really interesting, good alternatives and so the issue at hand is to find the best of a series of six good choices," said Jeffrey Arndt, VIA's interim president and CEO.

Arndt said the engineering part of the project starts this year, with construction to begin in 2015 and the official launch date in December 2017, but Arndt said that VIA wants plenty of public input.

People had the chance to see the proposed routes and write their opinions down at a public input meeting downtown, and the one major opinion from many people has been that they don't want a streetcar.

Dick Slife said it will end up costing more money than expected and that it will eventually hurt bus riders who count on VIA. He said a fixed streetcar limits options.

Arndt said this is the right time for a streetcar in a city that is setting itself up to be the city of the future.
Those in opposition say they'll continue to fight against the issue and will speak with their votes come election time.

For city council members, that election is just around the corner.