What if a real streetcar line meandered down Bardstown Road, connecting by rail Baxter Avenue and the Douglass Loop? Developer Dennis Dutton is proposing just that. His Bardstown Road Trolley Project is still in its early stages as the idea coalesces, but could transform public transportation in Louisville.
Dennis, who has developed property in the Highlands and elsewhere in Louisville, says the idea makes a lot of sense and everyone he talks to about the idea really supports it. The basic idea is to run an electric streetcar or trolley down Baxter Avenue and Bardstown Road. The streetcars are silent and don’t spew exhaust on the street and whether they carry a modern or traditional aesthetic will change public perception of transit.
The exact route for the proposal hasn’t yet been determined, but it could roughly follow the red line on the map above. The street cars would travel in traffic lanes on modern tracks with regular traffic. Dutton points out that the Douglass Loop was once the turnaround for just such a trolley system long ago but says the line could be expanded in either direction towards Downtown or farther down Bardstown Road.
A trolley line is hoped to spur additional economic growth in the area and “add to the allure of being on Bardstown Road.” Inspiration for the idea came from a real trolley installed in Little Rock, Arkansas and visits to Europe when Dutton was a pilot. He believes if it can work in Little Rock, trolleys could definitely work in Louisville.
Currently, the project is assembling a team to promote the idea and gather support. A web site is being created and will go live later this year. (It’s www.bardstownroadtrolley.com, so keep an eye out.) The site will allow supporters to register and sign an online petition. Dutton knows there will be plenty of obstacles and roadblocks along the way, but hopes the idea can garner enough excitement that it can push its way through.
- My old college neighborhood in St. Louis has a lot of similarities to Bardstown Road. It’s called the Delmar Loop and citizens and business leaders have been working on installing a similar trolley line on Delmar Boulevard. They’re calling it The Loop Trolley. Check their website for lots of info on the project and other streetcars in the U.S. Also check out the St. Louis group Citizens for Modern Transit. And here’s more about trolley aspirations in St. Louis.
- Cincinnati is proposes a streetcar line of its own, too. And you can find some info on Little Rock’s system that opened in 2004 here and here.
- Here’s an old photo of a trolley from Louisville. The Louisville City Railway began operating trolleys and interurban rail in town beginning in 1859. They sold their remaining streetcars in 1948. Now we have fake trolleys that are really buses operated by TARC and others. Still popular, though. Some of the old Louisville Railway Company cars are still running in San Francisco, complete with their original paint and label.
- The Infrastructurist has come up with 36 reasons streetcars are better than buses. The Overhead Wire wonders why people psychologically like trolleys and trains more than buses. Xing Columbus lists the many benefits of street cars.