Sunday, September 20, 2015

Volunteers Seeking Signatures Against West Rail Road

Volunteer Seeking Signatures of Those
Opposed to West Rail Road
The Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority, finally over their obsession with a toll road from the B & M Bridge to just past the Hwy 77 Flea Market at Olmito, is now pushing for a "Palm Boulevard" type road with bicycle access, to run the 8 miles now occupied by the Union Pacific Railroad lines.  

The previously pushed toll road project was dumb on so many levels, but fueled largely because the CCRMA had money burning a whole in its pocket, in other words, federal funding in place.  County Judge Carlos Cascos told me in 2010: "The toll road WILL be built.  The money has already been allocated."

The project was shelved for common sense reasons:  

1. West Brownsville residents would simply not pay a dollar to go to the flea market when they could get there free of charge just as easily.
2. The B&M Bridge is not suitable for truck or heavy vehicle traffic.

Now, the proposed "boulevard" with bicycle lanes is receiving still opposition from the "Friends of the West Rail Trail."  Two canvassers approached me Saturday, while we were visiting our son in West Brownsville, seeking signatures on a petition to block the proposed road and create an exclusive hike & bike trail on the old Union Pacific Line.

"How many signatures do you have so far?" I asked one of the volunteers.

"Already, we have 2,500, but we hope to get at least 5,000," she responded.

Opponents of the road feel it would bring unnecessary noise and pollution to an older, historic section of the city. Also, they do not trust bike lanes as safe for kids to ride to Skinner, Pullum and Benavides Elementary, Pace High School, IDEA Riverside and TSC-ITECC. They point to the bike lanes on Boca Chica Boulevard and Ruben Torres, that they feel have become merely "right turn lanes" as illustrative of the dangers of that approach.

A "Rally for the West Rail Trail" has been scheduled for Saturday, September 26 @ 6:30 PM at Oliveira Park, 104 El Paso Road.

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