AUSTIN, Texas - State Senator José Rodríguez returns to El Paso from the 86th legislative session after taking a big step towards achieving his goal of bringing an aerial tramway back into service.
Senate Bill 2248, which authorizes a partnership between the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) to pursue the Wyler Tramway project, was sent to Governor Greg Abbott's desk for his signature.
"We're very happy for the people of El Paso that we're ahead of the game here by getting some contribution from the state at this early stage of building the new project," Sen. Rodríguez said.
The bill allocates $5 million of state funding to be used toward the rebuilding of a new tramway. Sen. Rodríguez was initially asking for $15 million.
"It's not as much as we were asking for, but we think that the $5 million, at least from my perspective, is a very good start."
Sen. Rodríguez said the bill did initially face some skepticism.
"It's an attraction that people from all over the world utilize. It's one of the most unique tramways in the world. It's economic development for our community."
"We're going to be making every effort to get the business community, the Chambers of Commerce, The Borderplex Alliance and others that see the same value in having the tramway operating in El Paso as we do in the legislation," Rodríguez said.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is currently conducting a feasibility study to determine the cost of a new tramway, which could exceed $10 million.
Sen. Rodríguez says the feasibility study should be done before the end of the year. Then he'll know how much more money needs to be raised.
"This is not going to be the end of it. This is just the beginning. We can ask the state for another contribution next session."
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to see a slideshow of the Wyler Aerial Tramway.