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Tuesday, January 29, 2013    

New Orleans opens Loyola Avenue streetcar line


The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA) marked the opening yesterday of the Loyola Avenue-Union Passenger Terminal streetcar line, which extends transit service to the city's French Quarter, the Superdome and downtown job centers.

The line features four new stations, travels through the city's business district, and connects directly with Amtrak and intercity bus service at the Union Passenger Terminal, as well as streetcar service on Canal Street.

The line already is attracting new business and residential development to the area, federal and city officials said in a statement issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).

"We are committed to helping New Orleans modernize its historic streetcar line, which has become an important catalyst for revitalizing the downtown business and tourist districts," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

USDOT provided $45 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant funds toward the project in fiscal-year 2010.

The private sector contributed the majority of the $2.7 billion cost to build and renovate properties along or near the streetcar corridor, including hotels, offices and sports facilities damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The dollar amount includes a $185 million mixed-use development in the city's merging South Market District.

In anticipation of its expanding streetcar program, NORTA sought and received in 2011 a $400,000 workforce development grant from the Federal Transit Administration to establish a new streetcar maintenance training program program for disadvantaged workers age 21 years and older. Run in conjunction with Delgado Community College, the program will graduate 14 participants in March.

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