San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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July 28th, 2008
A bitter-sweet luncheon for the Lions Club.

San Marcos Lions Club President Mike Rhoades open the meeting by pointing out the empty chair with the A&M University shirt on it at one of the tables. It symbolized their latest member to pass away, Jodie Polk. Polk was a former aggie and at the luncheon they recapped how much he loved his university. In the past two weeks, two San Marcos Lions Club members have died, the first being John Morrisett.They were both in ill health for quite some time, but still we weren’t expecting it quite this quick,” said Rhoades. “When you lose a loved one the family is a concern, so we, as a club try to take care of them. ”

San Marcos City Council John Thomaides was the guest speaker at the meeting. He spoke about the Austin- San Antonio Commuter Rail and described the stages in which it finds itself.

“We are moving along with the project and are getting support nationally and in Austin at the state level,” said Thomaides. “San Marcos lobbies in Washington every year and we have a friend, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s support.”

Thomaides explained that between the cities and counties involved they have raised nearly $30 million as of now. In an informational handout presented at the luncheon it projects the total cost of the commuter rail at $613 million, with an additional $41 million annually for operation cost. The handout outlines the purpose and need for the project to improve mobility and safety throughout the I-35 corridor from Austin to San Antonio, maintain air quality status, provide a predictable and reliable travel choice and create economic development opportunities.

“The commuter rail will take you from central business district to central business district,” said Thomaides.
The rail system will have express and local trains. The express train is projected to take 90 minutes from the Austin Central Business District to the San Antonio Central Business District, while the local train will take 105 minutes. Initial operations will run from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., every 30 minutes during peak hours and every 45 minutes during non-peak hours and passenger trains will take priority over freight trains according to the handout.

Thomaides described the advantage students will have from this rail system, because it is estimated that between 10 and 15 thousand students commute to Texas State from Austin and San Antonio. He also illustrated the possibility of business development around the San Marcos station. According to the handout a Financial and Economic Benefits study has been completed.

The commuter rail system is expected to be finished in 2012, said Thomaides. He explained that San Marcos experiences roughly 40 freight trains per day that travel at 17 miles per hour, with its relocation it would have the potential of travelling at 79 miles per hour. The relocation of the freight rail cost is not included in the $613 million. There is state legislation that would help fund its relocation said Thomaides.

“After this legislative session we’ll have a better understanding of a time-table to have the freight rail relocated,” said Thomaides.



Lionclub Members singing the A&M Alma Mater


The late Jodie Polk’s empty chair at the lion’s club meeting

John Thomaides, place 6 councilman

Lion’s Club Banner


Photos by Andy Sevilla

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