A local state representative is not giving up as he is about to propose to legislature for the third time: A light rail train transportation system that would be built in the next 12-15 years.
Since 2005, State Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez has been pushing for a light rail train to give people another way to travel from one end of the Valley to the next.
“So many people saying, ‘When is this going to happen? How long will it take? Will it even happen?'” Martinez said. “Yes, the possibility is there.”
According to a study by Hidalgo County in 2011, nearly 16,000 Valley residents would use the train daily. The rail would run from Starr County to Cameron County and have stops in 10 cities.
“These are very exciting times, I think regionalism is extremely important,” Martinez said. “The fact that we are going to have to the other forms of transportation for people to go to one end of the Valley to the other. They can go to a concert, if they have alcohol, they don’t have to drive.”
But a big question remains: Where will the money to build the train come from?
The light rail is estimated to cost $300 million to construct, but Martinez says eventually, it will pay for itself.
“Just to maintain that about 15 million, so you’re generating about $12 million in actual revenue for the transit authority,” said Martinez.
Federal grants would be needed as no tax payers dollars would go towards the project.
“There’s certainly an opportunity for this to occur, assuming there’s different factors in place, like funding and community input,” said Sergio Contreras, CEO and President of RGV Partnership.
That community input was heard at the meeting.
If the light rail dream does become a reality, Martinez says it would cost riders anywhere from $1 to $5, depending on how things change in the next 15 years.
The proposal for the light rail system will be proposed to legislature in January.
Martinez says he hopes to have a copy of it on Gov. Gregg Abbott’s desk by May 2019.