Official Vows to Stop Lone Star Rail in Its Tracks

“When all the details are exposed, the overwhelming majority of people I represent will feel comfortable” about pulling the plug on Lone Star, he said.

Official Vows to Stop Lone Star Rail in Its Tracks

Ed. Note: Northeast Progressive thinking meets South Texas clear thinking.
No commuter rail line such as that proposed has ever paid for itself. They all turn out to be money-pits rolling on steel wheels.
The only people to make any money off these things are the manufacturers of the train engines and cars, the entity formed to operate the line (think VIA in San Antonio) and the consultants that write the reports required by the government. Looks like we’ve already sunk a few million on said reports.
Clear thinker Will Conley says enough is enough. Stop this train while we can. South Texans to Northeast progressives, “Yeah, we looked into that. Wouldn’t work out for us.”


Republished from WatchDog.org, by Kenric Ward,  July 20, 2016.  Image credit: Hays County


Photo courtesy of Hays County END OF THE LINE? Will Conley, who chairs the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, will propose cutting off funding of the controversial Lone Star Rail project

END OF THE LINE? Will Conley, who chairs the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, will propose cutting off funding of the controversial Lone Star Rail project.

“Lone Star Rail is in self-preservation mode. Elected officials are supposed to be accountable for taxpayer dollars. We’re calling a spade a spade,” Hays County Commissioner Will Conley told Watchdog.org.

The controversial commuter-rail venture hit a wall when Union Pacific Railroad refused to turn over its tracks to LSR. But advocates continue to pay for a two-year environmental impact statement at a cost of up to $30 million.

Conley, who chairs the 20-member Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, says it’s time for the fantasy to end.

“We no longer have a route,” he said. “I don’t believe they have a viable project. To move forward is a waste of taxpayer money.”

CAMPO pledged $20 million to LSR, with $12 million of that spent thus far. Conley said he will propose that all unspent funds be returned to “close it out properly.”

The Hays County Commission unanimously opposes funding the 77-mile rail line that would connect Austin and San Antonio. Hays lies between the two cities.

City Council members in San Marcos, the Hays County seat, affirmed their support for Lone Star earlier this month.

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“Lone Star has successfully leveraged about $5 million in local investment into over $50 million in state and federal funding commitments to the project,”John Thomaides, Lisa Prewitt and Scott Gregson said in a joint statement.

“That’s something most taxpayers and business people would ordinarily applaud,” they said.

To date, $28 million has been spent — about 1 percent of anticipated total project costs — on planning, engineering and environmental clearances.

James Quintero, director of the Center for Local Governance at the Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation, said the rail venture has turned into “another big government boondoggle.”

Noting that the bulk of the spending has gone to consultants, Quintero said “it’s hard to see how throwing more good money after bad on this project will do anything to provide relief for frustrated commuters.”

Conley, whose county commission district encompasses half of San Marcos, said enough is enough, and the voters know it.

“When all the details are exposed, the overwhelming majority of people I represent will feel comfortable” about pulling the plug on Lone Star, he said.

Since the Texas Legislature did not grant taxing authority to the Lone Star Rail District, the train is dependent on other political entities to supply funding.LSR-logo

“The Legislature ensured there would be accountability, and that’s what’s happening now,” Conley said.

LSR spokesman Jeff Hahn said $8 million has been budgeted for an environmental impact study, with $3 million spent thus far.

Hahn said six routes will be submitted for public review by year’s end.

Acknowledging the chronic traffic congestion along the I-35 corridor, Conley didn’t rule out an alternative transit project in the future. It just won’t be Lone Star Rail at its proposed cost and configuration.

“We’re looking for proper planning and competence,” he said.

This article was updated at 8:20 a.m. Thursday


Republished from Watchdog.org.  CLICK HERE to read the original.


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