Downtown El Paso set to ride streetcar revival

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Beginning in 2018, El Paso residents will be riding the rails again. Streetcars, once a staple in El Paso, will return. A $97 million grant from the Texas Transportation Commission and $4.5 million from the City of El Paso is funding the 4.8-mile route.

The revamped streetcar system is an example of art becoming reality. A graduate thesis by City Council Representative, Peter Svarzbein, was the impetus for the project. Svarzbein created a mock ad campaign to revamp the then-defunct streetcar system. The campaign caught the attention of local officials who sought funding to bring the project to life.

Orange traffic barrels mark current construction on El Paso’s streets. The route traverses the Downtown Shopping District, UTEP, Sunset Heights, Cincinnati Entertainment District and the international bridges.

Timeline of El Paso’s Streetcar history

The trolley system ran in El Paso from 1882-1974. At the time, it was the only international streetcar, connecting Juarez and El Paso. The system was reestablished from 1990-2000 with rubber tire trolleys, at which time, streetcars left El Paso’s streets.

For the latest updates on the El Paso Streetcar Project, see the city’s streetcar Facebook page.

This multimedia story was produced for 2016 Dow Jones Multimedia Training Academy by Sheryl Kennedy Haydel, Eilene Wollslager and Stu VanAirsdale.

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