Sunday, November 27, 2005

Rep. Krusee Clarifies His Rail Dream

This article from The Statesman's Ben Wear, Where there's a rail dream, there's likely to be an election, has quite a bit in it. It even has a map. It looks like a case of a politician shooting his mouth off before telling the other's involved. But early on we find out the main reason he believes this is needed is, of course, so we can keep up with the "cool" cities and be "hip":
Krusee, in his remarks to a huge forum looking at the development issues raised by the coming Texas 130 toll road, said that Central Texas is engaged in a running competition for jobs with other "cool" cities such as Denver, Seattle and Portland, Ore. Rail, and the hip station-area developments that rail fans say would come with it, are important in creating the kind of milieu that draws employers, he said.
Really? (Makes me think of Chris Rock's bit on the "old guy in the club"). Well at least it won't cost very much:
The cost of all that, frankly, has not been toted up by anyone, even in preliminary form.

But it's safe to say that it would be north of $1 billion or maybe even $2 billion, especially counting what it will cost to move most of Union Pacific's cross-country freight operations to alternate tracks east of Austin.
But it won't be hard to get the money, right?
Capital Metro, even if it could prevail in the increasingly tough competition to get federal New Starts funding for rail projects, would probably get only half the project cost from Uncle Sam. The other half, no matter what the exact figure, would be far more than Capital Metro could gin up from its 1 percent sales tax.

The transit agency might have to ask voters, in a separate ballot question, to let it sell bonds. And get money from surrounding cities likely to have stops on the lines. And from the state. And then scour the couch cushions.
So did Rep. Krusee does Rep. Krusee really think he can get all this on the ballot in November?
So, did Krusee actually think that somehow enough of that voluminous groundwork could be laid in time for an election on the full smorgasbord of rail just about 11 months from now?

Well, no, he said last week.

"I felt like it was my job to start the discussion, lay out a goal and see if others want to join me," he said. "It's not like a plan hatched by Capital Metro and me."

He plans to have private discussions on the subject with other community leaders - people such as Austin Mayor Will Wynn and former Austin City Council Member Daryl Slusher, he said -— in the coming weeks.
Just getting it out there? Again this all started after the recent election which Rep. Krusee stumped hard for Proposition 1, which if you recall, "..would establish a fund through which taxpayers would help pay for relocating freight rail lines from congested urban areas." Those freight lines will be turned into commuter rail and bring all the cool and hip jobs to Austin.


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