Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lancaster County, Pa., officials OK streetcar study

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Lancaster County commissioners have approved a $20,000 feasibility study for streetcar operations in Lancaster, Pa., with conditions mandating an analysis of technical and financial practicality. The conditional approval was welcomed by Lancaster Mayor Richard Gray, a prime advocate of the proposed two-mile line.

Approval of the study does not mean approval of the project, several commissioners noted, insisting that the economic impact analysis andthe engineering study will show if a streetcar system would be sustainable without reliance on taxpayer dollars. Doubts also were raised about the availability of independent consultants in the U.S. capable of providing “independent analysis,” but Mayor Gray expressed confidence such expertise was available.

Debate over the exact route also has ensued, though one constant so far is a link to Amtrak’s Lancaster Station on the Philadelphia-Harrisburg Keystone Corridor.

The project has been advanced during the past two years by the non-profit Lancaster Alliance, which includes at least 15 of the city’s largest businesses.