Metropolitan Planning Organization board approves giving El Paso trolley project $97 million

EL PASO, Texas - The Metropolitan Planning Organization's Transportation Policy Board on Friday morning approved the giving the El Paso trolley project $97 million.

The money will come from TxDOT funds in Fiscal Year 2015.

State Rep. Joe Picket and Vinton Mayor Madeleine Praino voted no.

Downtown El Paso's city representative earlier this weeek said she's offended by comments made by Pickett. It's all over transparency and funding for the trolley system underway.

The downtown reformation could soon include a trolley. For District 8 City Rep. Cortney Niland, that is great news, despite the investment.

"We were able to qualify for $97 million worth of funding that we can use for this fixed-route corridor and we can see upwards, we're hoping, of a billion dollars of new development," Niland said.

Pickett said he thinks City Council has made decisions based on misleading information. 

"I heard quoted that this is transit money, that's not true. I heard that if we didn't use the money, it would be lost. That's not true," Pickett said.

Not only is the $97 million price tag controversial, but people want to know exactly which fund from TxDOT the money is coming from, and if it can be spent somewhere else such as improvements on the I-10, Spur 601 and U.S. 54.

Most of the money is coming from the Texas Transportation Commission's Mobility Fund, and Niland said it doesn't take away from the other infrastructure improvements needed.

"What I was elected to do is handle my city issues. This funding was available, we went after it, we got it and now we're gonna be able to use these monies to help grow our local tax base, and that's good leadership," Niland said. She added that Pickett should get more connected with leaders in the community.

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