A Desire Named Streetcar, Part 281

Streetcars have been on the city council and Dallas Area Rapid Transit's radar since well before the May 23, 2008, book-club get-together at Dallas City Hall, during which city officials and downtown stakeholders got a talking-to from the authors of Street Smart: Streetcars and Cities in the 21st Century. But the questions remain: Where to put 'em, how to pay for 'em, how to govern 'em and, well, how to do even do 'em in the first place? This afternoon, the council's Transportation and Environment Committee will sneak-peek a road map to the answers.

Linda Koop has said in recent weeks she hopes to get streetcars going within a year, but first the city will have to move forward with the creation of something called the Dallas Streetcar, Inc. Local Government Corporation, which, according to the briefing, would be charged with providing "professional staff to administer streetcar program; funding for planning, design, vehicle acquisition and construction; [and] funds to support operations and maintenance." Among myriad other things.

That leaves DART with plenty to do (including operating and maintaining the things), and also demands the private sector kick in some dough as well ("such as advertising and sponsorships"). But where will the big money come from? Well ... Transportation Infrastructure Finance and State Infrastructure Bank loans via the U.S. Department of Transportation, most likely, plus regional funds and a bond sale. But we'll know more within two months, per the final page of the briefing. Turns out, one thing they're waiting on is for a "consultant to provide the Dallas Streetcar Business Plan to Streetcar Steering Committee for review." More to come after the briefing from Dr. James Lyle Lanley Schutze.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky