Could a modern streetcar line help revitalize West Louisville? Louisville lawyer Clarence Hixson thinks it will and has proposed a concept line called the “Peace Train” running along Market Street roughly between Shawnee Park and Frankfort Avenue. Hixson hopes such a line could spur investment, create jobs, remove cars from the street, and help revitalize West Louisville.
Citing disparity in public investment in the West End as other areas like downtown, Fisherville, and the area around the East End Bridge are receiving hundreds of millions in new funds, Hixson said connecting the West End would better allow residents access to jobs. Hixson also hopes the permanent tracks will spur investment along the line. West Market Street through the Russell neighborhood is filled with underutilized properties and dilapidated structures that are full of potential. Developers and investors are encouraged by fixed-track transit lines as it represents a permanent investment that won’t move around.
Hixson has previously proposed a Fourth Street trolley connecting downtown with Churchill Downs he hoped would spur tourism, but this time it’s about bringing up the community. “We’re very interested in creating jobs in the West End,” he said. “We need to break down barriers at Ninth Street and get entrepreneurs in. If it were better connected, you’d see an infusion of new business.”
A West Market Street Corridor Improvement Study was conducted by Gresham Smith engineers in 2009 making streetscape improvement recommendations, but Hixson doesn’t think the report goes far enough. “It does absolutely nothing to improve the mobility of people in the neighborhood,” he said. Instead, if the improvements were coordinated with a streetcar project and other utility work, Hixson believes the benefits would be more far reaching.
The next step is to study the feasibility of such a streetcar line. “This is a pretty new idea,” Hixson said. “We’re just beginning to work on this.” He said he would like to ask Metro Council to fund a study of the streetcar idea.