Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kenosha, Wis., mulls heritage streetcar extension

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Kenosha, Wis., is pondering expanding its heritage streetcar line, and has included $10.2 million for the proposal in a two-year capital improvement plan. But concerns about traffic congestion have surfaced, challenging the expansion effort.

The proposed extension extend the streetcar through downtown Kenosha, with a track going south on Eighth Avenue and north on Sixth Avenue from 50th Street to Library Park.

Kenosha Transit Commission Director Ron Iwen told local media concerns about traffic jams and congestion are misplaced because "mass transit hauls more people faster than cars. At Bradford High School, it took 68 seconds to dump 70 students. This will not cause congestion."

Iwen added, "We have six or seven parking lots in the city which are underutilized. We are working to educate the public on where the parking lots are with the new signage that's coming."

Iwen also said the Kenosha Area Business Alliance conducted a survey showing 92% of the business owners want the added streetcar loop. br>

The proposed expansion will be voted on by the city's Committee of the Whole Nov. 27, and if it passed it will be submitted for final approval, along with the full budget and Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), in front of the Common Council the next day.

The line, about 1.7 miles in length, uses rehabilitated PCC streetcars to connect with Chicagoland's Metra service. It opened for service in June 2000.