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Streetcar Trolley Project No Longer Has Money

Plans to build a streetcar trolley system from Downtown El Paso to UTEP are stalled and the $90 million the City said was secured for the project are no longer in sight.

The City of El Paso approved plans to build the streetcar system by the end of 2015, with construction beginning this Summer.

The plan was for the state to pay for $90 million of the project, while the City committed $5 million for design, environmental clearance and some preliminary engineering.

City officials, last summer, said State Transportation Commissioner Ted Houghton had secured the $90 million for the anticipated project. But construction has not begun and the City now says the funding has not been allocated or identified.

“We are waiting and ready when funds are identified,” wrote Deputy City Manager Jane Shang in an email on Wednesday . The City has spent $4.47 million “for all phases of design — which includes environmental clearance, pre-design and final design of entire system including maintenance facility, as well as report phase and preliminary engineering,” wrote another City spokeswoman.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization, which works with regional agencies to plan transportation projects, also said the funding was not there.

“We’ve been monitoring the minutes and orders from the (transportation) commission and I don’t know of any commitment. I don’t know of these $90 million,” said Michael Medina, the Interim Executive Director of the MPO.

The MPO has two lists for transportation projects. The Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) consists of long-term projects that don’t have secured funding, while the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) is made up of projects that will begin by 2016 and have secured money. The streetcar, according to Medina, is on the MTP.

It’s unclear why the funding has not been allocated. Houghton’s secretary said he was unavailable until Monday . ABC-7 will continue to investigate.

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