El Paso is undergoing a major restoration project that has been in the works for 15 months. The project, estimated to cost $97 million, is said to be 95% complete. The project, aimed to help lay five miles of rail and cable systems, will help revitalize the city’s streetcars.
The project’s cars, many of which are vintage, will undergo a makeover, with cars receiving technology boosts and paintings to bring them up to current standards.
The project, which has been an ongoing effort by city officials, is expected to be completed before the end of the year. Streetcars can be expected to carry passengers in Western Central El Paso and Downtown.
Streetcars have been sent to experts in Pennsylvania, who will restore six streetcars back to their original condition. The streetcars were once in operation in El Paso, but they sat idle for over 40 years at the city’s international airport. The cars gathered rust over the decades and fell into disarray. The six streetcars are now being restored, with the first streetcar expected to be delivered to El Paso on Monday.
Restorers claim that the city’s streetcars are all in different stages of the restoration process. The restoration process has been going on since 2015.
The first model, No. 1506, just arrived in Downtown El Paso on Monday morning. Livestreams of the delivery were online to mark the iconic return of the vehicles. The city warned residents that the arrival of the streetcar would lead to lane closures and traffic backups.
The public will not be able to access the streetcar anytime soon. Officials will be tasked with ensuring that the streetcars are fully restored and primarily safe.
Routes will run in two loops to better accommodate the flow of passengers. The loop will run from the international bridges Downtown to the University of Texas.
The project hasn’t been without changes requested. Officials state that there have been 70 work change requests. The work requests only include 30 which have been approved. The additional changes added $9.2 million to the project. City officials incorporated a contingency fund into the project, which will cover the additional costs.
The changes orders that were accepted included sewer and drain line installment, bike lanes, concrete removal and storm drainage.
Changes are common with large-scale projects to help push changes through faster while work is already being conducted. Working on sewer lines when the street is already being redone allows the city to save money in the future.
Sewer lines across the country have been a hot topic. Many sewer lines are 50 years old, with some being over 100 years old – well past their useful lifespan.
The requests for the sewer line and storm drainage were sent to the city by the water utility. Replacements and new drains will be placed along the five-mile streetcar route. El Paso Water contributed almost $5 million for street improvements along the streetcar route.
A wrap-up change order is expected to be submitted soon.
Streetcars were a popular feature in El Paso, with presidents taking streetcars in the past.