Streetcar Fever Spreads Across US

With a growing belief in the streetcars' ability to catalyze redevelopment, cities are jockeying for federal and local funds to build retro transit systems in their downtowns.

Josh Stephens writes about the growing popularity of streetcars as not just transportation, but as a catalyst for revitalization:

"In transportation terms, streetcars play the same role as downtown shuttle buses – they are "circulators" connecting places in close proximity to one another. Many planners see streetcars not as transportation projects at all and are instead "place-making" devices, according to Maureen Pascoe, capital improvement manager for the City of West Sacramento."

"Unlike light rail lines, which dominated rail transit over the past two decades, streetcars travel at grade and usually in the flow of traffic, without dedicated rights of way. It is their integral role in the streetscape that, supporters say, make them sought-after tools for urban development and economic development."

"A 2008 report commissioned by Portland Streetcar contends that up to $3.5 billion had been invested within two blocks of the alignment since the system began operating in 2001. Likewise, residential and commercial densities had increased, with over 10,000 new housing units and over 5 million square feet of new commercial space."

Thanks to Josh Stephens

Full Story: California Cities Desire Streetcars

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