San Antonio International Airport Vision 2050 and Lone Star Rail Update

As the City of San Antonio continues to grow, our transportation systems are becoming increasingly important. There are several exciting changes on the horizon for the City of San Antonio, including an updated San Antonio International Airport Master Plan and the potential creation of a passenger rail system between San Antonio and Austin.

Vision 2050 – San Antonio International Master Plan
A major milestone at the San Antonio International Airport will be realized this Spring as Vision 2050, the update to the Airport’s Master Plan, will go before City Council for consideration and adoption. Vision 2050 identifies the development options regarding land use, facilities and services to ensure that the airport meets its strategic objectives and can accommodate expected levels of activity over the next 20 years.

The nearly two year process has included input from more than 90 individuals representing close to 70 organizations, including universities, businesses, chambers of commerce, local municipalities, tourism and community organizations, local utilities and transportation entities. Two public meetings were also held to allow the public to ask questions of the Master Plan Team.

The Vision 2050 Airport Master Plan can be viewed here. This site also includes information presented at the committee meetings such as agendas, presentations and the answers to the questions asked at the meetings. The committee came to three main recommendations for the growth of the Airport:

Optimization
· Master Plan seeks to accommodate activity growth with facilities sized to meet that growth
· Common use airline gates can delay need for terminal expansion
· Airfield “infill areas” improve efficiency of apron/gate interface

Financial Sustainability
· Property acquisition can enhance non-aeronautical revenues
· Commercial development concept established

Transportation Hub
· Multimodal concepts position San Antonio International Airport as a regional transportation hub
· Interface with Austin-San Antonio Rail Corridor
· Opportunity for a VIA transit hub

Lone Star Rail
As another significant transportation initiative, the Lone Star Rail District will effectively compliment Vision 2050. Previously known as the Austin-San Antonio Commuter Rail District, the Lone Star Rail District was established by the Texas legislature in 1997 and formally organized in 2003 to promote the creation of passenger rail system between the cities of Austin and San Antonio. Since that time, the San Antonio City Council has passed several resolutions supporting the creation of the commuter rail district, and actively participated as a member in the district since 2003. City Council also passed a local resolution in support of the 2009 State Legislature appropriation of $200 million annually to fund the Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Fund.

The District has identified 16 potential LSTAR passenger rail stations for the rail line, with five of these stations located in San Antonio. The estimated capital cost for the system is $394 million for initial service and $612 million for full build-out. The District is proposing to fund capital expenses over a period of time through a combination of federal grants, State Rail Relocation funds, Union Pacific cost-sharing and public-private partnerships.

Estimated operation & maintenance costs ($28 million for initial service and $41 million for full build-out for all locations) are proposed to be split three-ways, with one-third each to be contributed annually by San Antonio, Austin, and the combined smaller cities. The San Antonio region’s annual portion equals approximately $9 million for initial service and $14 million at full build-out.

While the City Council has expressed support for this project, they have requested that City staff explore funding possibilities for further consideration in Fiscal Year 2012 budget deliberations later this spring. In order to consider and analyze all funding alternatives, I have appointed an internal Financial Workgroup that will conduct a financial analysis on the proposed station locations and the operating and maintenance costs for the San Antonio region.

Additional information on the LSTAR project can be found on the District’s website: http://www.lonestarrail.com/

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