Monday, March 24, 2014

Winston-Salem endorses streetcar plan

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Charlotte, N.C., has paced the Tar Heel State when it comes to both light rail transit and streetcar development, extending its first (Blue) LRT line while the latter streetcar (Gold) line is under construction. But Winston-Salem's City Council on March 24, 2014 approved a plan to join North Carolina's streetcar club.

Winston-Salem's City Council voted 7-to-1 to approve the plan. Last month the city council's Public Works Committee approved a streetcar plan in a 3-to-1 vote.

The city, roughly 80 miles north northeast of Charlotte, is expected to approve plans to seek federal Small Starts money. The city plans a north-south route though Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and connecting with Winston-Salem State University east of U.S. 52. The line's cost currently is estimated at $179 million.

“Some cities around the country are going to get it, so it might as well be Winston-Salem,” Council Member Derwin Montgomery told local media, justifying the effort to seek federal funding support.

Winston-Salem lies roughly 80 miles north northeast of Charlotte, and about 103 miles west of Raleigh, the state capital. Omaha, Neb.-based HDR Engineering, Inc. is consultant to the city, and has advised Winston-Salem to seek Federal Transit Administration funding of up to $88 million to help fund the project. The city may also seek funding from the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.

Council Member Dan Besse, another streetcar supporter, told local media, "I think in the long run the opportunities look good," citing the success of LRT in Charlotte. "I think in the long run the opportunities look good," he added, noting that the success of light rail in Charlotte should help gain future support.

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