Monday, May 05, 2014

St. Augustine, Fla., mulls streetcar

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St. Augustine, Fla., is considering a narrow-gauge heritage streetcar operation, roughly paralleling U.S. Route 1 and linking several traffic generating sites within the municipality.

The proposal, first disclosed publicly this spring by Historic City News website, is being aided by a so-far unnamed designer of track and overhead wire systems.

Last September the St. Augustine Mobility Institute held a weeklong series of public seminars addressing the city’s mobility challenges. The institute is a partnership between the city and the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization, the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for four counties, with Kansas City, Mo.-based HNTB cosponsoring the event and the subsequent report.

The city in 2013 also considered a resolution to participate in a First Coast Commuter Rail System, a plan that would connect St. Augustine to Jacksonville, Fla.

Though tourism is cited as a prime driver for the streetcar project, the proposal also cites eventual connections with proposed All Aboard America and Amtrak intercity rail services being suggested for Florida’s east coast, using Florida East Coast Railway right-of-way.

Economic development also appears to be part of the plan, as the proposed line would serve the San Marco Corridor Redevelopment Area, according to a slide presentation posted by Historic City News. St. Augustine, located in northeastern Florida roughly 37 miles south of Jacksonville, has a metropolitan area population of roughly 69,000.