Developers consider funding options for downtown rail system

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Updated: 3/17/2014 9:25 pm
It is a project that has a big price tag. Marc McDougal of McDougal Companies is behind a potential light rail system connecting downtown to Texas Tech.

"At this point, about $126 million," he said. "That's probably not everything."

But he said federal grants could help provide funds.

"What we're looking at is a 50/50 match from the federal government. If we're able to do that, then there are other sources of funds," he said.

So far, no tax payer money has been promised. And beyond sitting in on discussion, the city is not involved at all. But mayor Glen Robertson said the idea is worth looking into.

"It could be a giant boom for Lubbock, and especially for downtown," he said.

The idea is that easy transportation to campus will encourage students to live downtown.

"If we can get anywhere between 2 and 5 thousand students living in downtown Lubbock, downtown Lubbock will redevelop on its own," the mayor said. "The private investors will follow those students."

"If we're able to get this done, I think you'll see a lot more businesses, retail, restaurants, bars, not only in the Depot District, but downtown," McDougal added.

The key is to remember that this is in the very early stages. $17,000 provided by the downtown redevelopment plan has been allocated to research similar projects like the one at West Virginia University, and other costs this project could include. Whether the plan is carried out now or later, information gathered will have a long shelf life.

"All the work isn't going to be for nothing. At some point in the future this may get pulled off the shelf and new life put into it," McDougal assured.

He is uncertain how quickly a project like this could get underway, he said from six to eight months, up to a few years. Research on this project is expected to wrap up in the next few months. Then developers will have a better idea of where to look for funding.
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