Light rail commuter system in the Valley?

In 2007, State Representative Armando Martinez authored HB2510 to allow the creation of a light rail commuter system in Rio Grande Valley, since then, the Hidalgo County Commuter Rail District has been putting together a strategy to make that happen.

Transportation in the Valley could soon be cutting edge, but it'll have to take grant money in order to get it going.

The Department of Energy paid for a study that could bring a commuter rail system to the Valley.

"We have to demonstrate that there's an actual need and positive economic impact from a transportation system such as what we're talking about," said Jim Edge, Vice Chairman of the Hidalgo County Commuter Rail District.

He said he's been with the project since the beginning, and he said once the project is complete, it'll have a lot to offer the Valley.

"Buses...commuter rail which runs on standard track and light rail which is the inner city rail line," said Edge.

Mike Feeney said a commuter rail service could be used on existing freight rail tracks.

Mike Feeney is the study's project manager.

He said the hope is for the commuter rail to connect the cities and rural areas in Rio Grande Valley making it easier for travel, bringing jobs and an economic boost to the area, and he said more businesses will want to set shop near the commuter rail system.

"You'll have a mixture of businesses, shops, entertainment and housing closer to the stations themselves," said Feeney.

As a result of the feasibility study, Feeney said he's found that the ridership would be 15 to 25 thousand riders per day with weekday service on the train.

"What's going to attract that is the general socioeconomic characteristics of the region," he said.

Feeney also presented tentative station locations.

One example is by a major school so that students can get around easier, but he emphasized that the study is preliminary, and studies will continue within the next couple of months to bring a commuter rail system to the Valley.

In the next couple of months, the project manager said they'll be studying the stats on how the commuter rail will create jobs.