“We know that traffic on US 59 will not lessen. And people are always going to be looking for other options. And this is to find another way to provide high-capacity transit to move people in that region.”
METRO is floating five possible options for the rail project. Most involve light rail technologies. Just one considers commuter rail. They would all require laying down brand new track. Sharing track with freight rail has been talked about in the past. But Slaughter says it isn’t possible now. She says there’s just too much freight traffic. The project is expected to cost between $200 and $250 million dollars. METRO is holding four public meetings this month.
“We’re asking the public to come and join us. We’re asking for all stakeholders, public agencies, residents, landowners, everyone, employees in the area, to come to the public meetings and tell us what else should we consider; what other alignments we should consider.”
Slaughter says if all goes smoothly, construction could begin on the rail line by late 2017.
But finding money for transportation projects is difficult in this economic and political climate, so METRO may have trouble coming up with the cash.
For information on the public meetings, visit the METRO Website.