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Lone Star Rail updates

From last week, San Antonio City Council gets set to make a financial commitment to the Lone Star Rail line.

San Antonio is expected to make its first financial commitment to building the Lone Star Rail line next week when city council members vote for a budget that includes $500,000 for the project.

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San Antonio Council member Joe Krier says the next step will be an agreement with Lone Star Rail on San Antonio’s financial commitment to the project for the next five years.

Krier says the Alamo City’s annual obligation could rise to $2 million during that initial contract, but there would be protections.

“My concern is that we make sure when we get that agreement that taxpayers in San Antonio are protected, in that we know exactly what we are paying; that there’s a locked-in cap on it, because a lot of these projects fail because of cost; and we need to have an exit ramp that would allow us to bail out if we want to. Lone Star has said they’re comfortable in doing that.”

Krier is a big fan of the rail line. In addition to taking vehicles off the road, he believes the train would make college more affordable for some of the 250,000 students who live along the corridor.

“If Lone Star Rail just picked up 5 percent of those (students) that would be 7,500 students a day. It means a student can live one end of the corridor, attend school in another end of the corridor, and get back in the same day so they can stay at home with their parents,” Krier said.

Krier says city dollars will pay for engineering and administrative costs, and for financial negotiations with Union Pacific. He says Lone Star representatives have assured him there are private investors willing to bankroll capital costs, which include the purchasing of rail cars.

See here for the background. There are still some entities than LSRD intends to hit up for cash, but so far so good for them. This follows on the heels of getting Bexar County to pony up.

Bexar County’s $1.7 billion budget that was approved Tuesday includes $500,000 for the Lone Star Rail District.

While the funding received a green light, no agreements are in place yet, according to a county spokesperson.

Lone Star Rail District Director Joe Black said he’s also asked the City of San Antonio and VIA Metropolitan Transit for start-up funding. The rail agency will also ask for funding from Alamo Colleges, Black said.

Again, so far so good. The real test will be once LSRD has these commitments in hand to start delivering on their own promises. I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

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