El Paso

City to consider exploring new -- and old -- ways to get people across border efficiently

City to consider exploring new -- and...

EL PASO - El Paso City Council is set to discuss funding options Tuesday for a feasibility study for a transnational multi-modal pedestrian oriented project that would move people across the border more efficiently.

The route for El Paso's new streetcar project stops about one to two blocks short of the Paso Del Norte bridge Downtown. Tuesday's discussion will center on a possible monorail or additional trolley route to go back and forth across the border.

City Rep. Peter Svarzbein will be pitching the idea in an attempt to find funding simply to study the concept, the origin of which dates back into the mid-1960s.

Svarzbein said it's important to make sure people can cross our border in an efficient and consistent way, instead of having to walk over or sit in traffic for hours. He pointed to a 1965 monorail study by Stephen Kent that never took off as an example of what he's talking about.

Svarzbein said in the current political climate where the discussions in Washington, D.C., center on border security and building walls on the border, that the discussion here centers on economic security and how we can keep the border safe while also finding a more efficient way to cross.

"We have tens of thousands of people that cross the border every day, going north and south, and then they cross back the very same day to go back to their homes or to go to school or to go to work," Svarzbein said. "We need to talk about in 2017 the kind of solutions and opportunities there are to get people over the border in a safe and efficient way."

Funding to study the project and possibly eventually build the project could come from the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Regional Mobility Authority or the federal government. He stopped short of projecting a cost.

"I think that's a great idea because many of us students we cross the border every day," said Hesus Chaparro, a UTEP sophomore and political science major, whom ABC-7 spotted walking back to Juarez after class on Monday. "Sometimes its very easy to miss the time and miss the bus or sometimes there's a lot of traffic on the streets. That would be very helpful for students to get to class on time."

Alma Urquidi, who works at jewelry store Centro de Oro Plata on El Paso Street, also likes the idea.

"To see something like this to improve downtown, that would be a great thing to do," Urquidi said. "That would be good for El Paso and Juarez also."

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