Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Kenosha delays streetcar decision

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Kenosha, Wis.'s City Council voted to delay a decision to expand its existing streetcar operations, with different council members offering differing reasons on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, for a two-week deferment.

The proposal to delay the decision was ostensibly to allow for additional review from the city's Historic Preservation Commission. Kenosha employs rehabilitated President's Conference Committee (PCC) streetcars in its system. Despite that, at least one commission member says a proposed turnaround loop would "hurt" the historic nature of Library Square.

Some residents also "don't care for the wires" and other visual obstructions streetcar systems require, according to local media. Others object to the specific route chosen, if not the mode itself.

Support for the project is still considered strong, however, as numerous residents and the president of the Downtown Business Improvement District Improvement District spoke in favor of the expansion.

Federal funds would cover 80% of the $10.3 million total capital cost, with Kenosha paying the remaining $2 million. The city's Transit Commission last month approved plans to add the new route, also approving design and engineering work.

Kenosha's existing 1.7-mile streetcar east-west route, patrolled by PCC streetcars, links the city's Metra passenger station with the city marina and two parks along Lake Michigan. Besides being touted as economic development tool, the new north-south route is being advanced (and defended) as a city transit circulator, and an additional tourist draw.