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Urban Train expansion study aimed at Convention Center District, Old San Juan


Josué Menéndez, director of the Integrated Transportation Authority, said “the study and execution of the expansion process of the Urban Train has begun, from its terminal station of Sagrado Corazón in Santurce, to the northeast of San Juan,” specifically the Convention Center District and Old San Juan.

By The Star Staff


Josué Menéndez, director of the Integrated Transportation Authority (ATI by its Spanish initials) told the Senate Committee on Innovation, Telecommunications, Municipal Planning and Infrastructure on Monday that the study and execution of the expansion process of the Urban Train toward the Convention Center District and Old San Juan has already begun.


“That is why we make these public hearings so that the country knows what is going to happen with the proposed expansion of the Urban Train and that it does not remain just talk, as it has been for 17 years,” Sen. Elizabeth Rosa Vélez, who chairs the committee, said in an aside with the media. “People are still complaining about [traffic] congestion in the metro area. … We have brought in people today who are users of the train, expressing the reality of what is happening. It is a very important issue in our country, in infrastructure, because it is the most expensive train in the world and we all pay for it.”


At the hearing, Menéndez said “the study and execution of the expansion process of the Urban Train has begun, from its terminal station of Sagrado Corazón in Santurce, to the northeast of San Juan [the Convention Center and Old San Juan].”


“We have established a work plan,” he said. “The coordination of this process is being carried out through a specialized group selected by ATI, under strict federal guidelines.”


He also clarified that the goal is to reach Old San Juan, including a stop at the Convention Center.


The deponent noted that a total of 12 alternative routes will be developed for the extension of the Urban Train, which will run from the Sagrado Corazón station to the Convention Center District.


“Naturally, these alternatives vary in alignment, modality, and type of grade [on the ground, elevated and underground],” Menéndez said. “The development of this exercise is consistent with the guidelines of the federal transportation agency and will allow the project to qualify, in due course, for the allocation of federal funds that can be used to pay for technical engineering, design and construction services.”


Rosa Vélez asked why the expansion of the Urban Train had been stopped, to which Menéndez replied that he did not know, as he was not with the agency at the time, but indicated that it could be presumed that the passage of hurricanes and earthquakes may be the reason for the delay in expansion plans.


“Right now we are focused on the analysis,” he said.


The committee chairwoman also asked why only the metro area is being considered at this time. The deponent said the planning for now is focused on a vision of the current needs of the San Juan metro area. He pointed out that the area with the highest population density is Santurce, and for that reason it is the focus of the analysis.

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