County Judge Nelson Wolff today promised that the controversial downtown streetcar project will be built, although he acknowledged in a 'State of the County' speech to the North Chamber of Commerce that a lot of 'my best friends' don't want the streetcar to be built, 1200 WOAI news reports.

 

  "They all start with tremendous controversy, but once they're built, the demand for expansion never stops," Wolff said.

 

  Wolff pointed out that Census Bureau figures released yesterday reported more than 23,000 new residents of San Antonio just in the past year, and said even with highway projects now underway, there is 'no way' that the county can build enough roads to handle the 'half million' new cars he expects to be on Bexar County roads in the coming years.

 

  He said mass transit is the only answer, and he said the streetcar is a good move because it will not require a tax increase of any sort.

 

  And he says even though the 'starter system' is for downtown, expansion is possible.

 

  "We have an 18 mile (rail) line that is going to become available to us, that will right at the west side multi modal terminal, right where the streetcar is going to go in, that would take us all the way out to La Cantera and places in between there," he said.

 

  He said other cities have found that 'once you get started' building a streetcar, support for it snowballs.

 

  He says a streetcar would carry three times more passengers than a bus, and once it is in operation, it is cheaper to run, and would be a 'tremendous inter city connection' between UTSA, the Medical Center, downtown, and other attractions.