El Pasoans impacted by Street Car Project construction

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By Zenia Lopez

Business owners and shoppers to Downtown for more than a year have had to maneuver through inconveniences regarding construction, road blockage, and reroutes because of the Street Car Project.

“This street car project is very irritating,” said William Foxworth, an employee at Hagan Imaging. “It has interfered getting to work by having to adjust my schedule around.”

This street car project began in late-2015 won’t be finished until late 2018, said Carl Jackson, a Sun Metro spokesman.

“I used to take the route from my house in Socorro to UTEP in almost 30 minutes by going through the Border Highway and going through Santa Fe,” said UTEP student Aaron Aceves. “Now that same trip takes me nearly 50 minutes on a good day.”

The street car routes consist of two loops. One is located downtown bounded by Santa Fe, Franklin, Kansas and Father Rahm streets.

The other loop will be located up town with the streets Franklin, Stanton, Baltimore, Glory, and Oregon. All these streets have been under construction for more than a year, causing people to get inconvenienced about taking alternative routes and finding their way around the blocked streets.

Customers trying to get to their businesses are upset because construction is pushing them away because parking spots are being blocked.

“Down here downtown is not a good idea to have that much construction because it takes away from parking and you have to walk from one place to another,” said customer Tommy Carreon who was trying to get to Tool Box, 506 N. Stanton St.

“You have to walk far to get to the bar, and of course, I wear heels – it’s a hassle,” Carreon said.

Street car supporters say the project will be more ecological to the environment, Aceves said.

The project was designated to reduce carbon monoxide because street cars produce less than cars.

Street cars will have Wi-Fi and air conditioning, Jackson said.

“I love the green direction the city is going with this project,” Aceves said. “I hope this is the first step of many in ending El Paso’s carbon foot print.”

Photo by Zenia Lopez for Journalism in July

Photo by Zenia Lopez for Journalism in July

Reviews are mixed on the project so far: Traffic has been impacted since construction began, but supporters say it will attract tourists and ease traffic.

“I think everybody. . . is very positive because they can see exactly what having this will do to reinvigorate the downtown area,” said Jackson, assistant director of Street Car Operations.

“Most people are very happy about it.”

As part of the project, meetings are held weekly at the Don Haskins Center at UTEP to address people impacted by construction.

“What we do is, every week, we have what we call stakeholder meetings where the residents can come up to where we have the meetings,” Jackson said. “That way they are speaking to the people who have the most knowledge about the schedule of the project and how it’s going.”

Downtown is growing with all the attractions and businesses, but the major street car project has been one of the most impacting projects due to all the construction and the repairing of streets.

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