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PROGRESSIVE RAILROADING August 2015 | PASSENGER RAIL | 21 Kansas City’s two-mile, north-south Downtown Streetcar starter line will operate primarily along Main Street. KCSTREETCAR.ORG the redevelopment word on the streetcar By Julie Sneider, Senior Associate Editor THE POPULARITY OF STREETCARS as a mecha- nism for drawing residents, visitors and business- es to downtown areas continues to spread across the United States. Dozens of cities now are home to streetcars, and another 30 are designing or building new systems, or expand- ing existing lines. In just the past two years, the streetcar renaissance has led to new lines in Salt Lake City; Dallas; Atlanta; Tucson, Ariz.; and Charlotte, N.C. Cities with lines under design or construction include Los Angeles; Seattle; Detroit; Cincinnati; Mil- waukee; Kansas City, Mo.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Others — St. Louis; Baton Rouge, La.; and Minneapolis, among them — are studying the pos- sibility of launching streetcar lines. Less expensive to build than light- rail or subway systems and less likely to be moved or rerouted than bus lines, streetcars can help attract residents, tourists and businesses along the routes. Another major component of the streetcar trend is the transportation mode’s use as a tool to revive downtown districts to make them attractive places to live, work and visit, proponents say. “Good streetcar systems are planned along ur- It takes more than a ‘build-it-and-they- will-come’ approach to use a streetcar as a transit-oriented development tool, cities find ban corridors where development is already hap- pening or it is anticipated to happen,” says Michael Townes, senior vice president and national transit market-sector leader of HNTB Corp., a design and engineering firm working on a number of U.S. streetcar projects. Planners typically try to locate streetcar systems in dense areas where they’ll cir- culate among employment, residential, commer- cial, health care and educational activities, he adds. The trend raises a classic chicken-and-egg question: Are cities building streetcars lines to transport people to businesses and venues, or to attract developers who will build or rejuvenate urban corridors that will attract people? Typically, it’s a mix of both, says Townes, who helped au- thor a recent HNTB white paper on streetcars and transit-oriented development. “Elected officials are looking to serve both of those needs, so they want a streetcar system to be planned so that it facilitates development but also meets the perceived and real needs of serving a particular corridor,” he says. “Good planning takes all of that into account.” Even in cities where proposed streetcars have been controversial (which is pretty much all of them), developers are rarely among the naysayers, says Townes. A case in point: M-1 Rail’s 3.3-mile circulating streetcar now under construction in