Concept route for a Market Street trolley line. (Courtesy Clarence Hixson/badwaterjournal.com)
Concept route for a Market Street trolley line. (Courtesy Clarence Hixson/badwaterjournal.com)
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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.

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Branden Klayko

29 COMMENTS

  1. If Metro leaders really want to break down barriers to West End development, implementing 86-64 and tearing down the 9th St. interchange would be the place to start. That physical barrier does more to destroy wallkability and viability west of 9th St than anything else.

  2. love it. i know it would be expensive and that it would therefore encounter a lot of opposition. but the simplicity of the proposal – a straight run down the most recognizable of louisville streets – makes it something that the public could wrap their heads around. much more clear than the t2 routing (though that definitely had strengths, too). kudos, mr hixson!

  3. This is a great idea. I would absolutely use a streetcar going from Downtown into Portland. I rode my bike down Main and Market west of 9th Street. The dilapidated structures are simultaneously depressing and full of potential (since there are other transport options established there already – bike lanes and bus lines). There’s a lot of new initiatives to our west – this would be a great way to connect.

    Please keep us posted on this idea, and how we can lend our voices to the cause.

    And I agree that this would meld nicely with the 8664 idea.

  4. Citing disparity in public investment in the West End…and the area around the East End Bridge are receiving hundreds of millions in new funds…? Yeah they’re spending $795 million on a 3 mile, 4 lane highway including a $261 million tunnel and a 4 story cut into the hillside. That’s over 1/2 billion dollars in purely aesthetic improvements in Prospect, all to protect the suburban estates of a few politically connected families. Meanwhile downtown Louisville is budgeted $0 for aesthetic improvements on the city’s image defining gateway. Increased transit options will not happen in our lifetime if the economically destructive downtown Ohio River Bridge Project is built. Not only will we not have the money but more importantly large numbers of urban minded professionals will be repelled by Louisville’s unmarketable central business district riverfront.

  5. Metro government cannot fund everything on its plate right now, they certainly don’t need to commit more money to study a project that won’t occur. There are many other lower cost improvements that could help the west end more. Especially in these hard economic times money needs to get spent were the most bang for the buck is achieved.

  6. I LOVE this idea.

    Coincidentally, I’m meeting with some people at Douglass Blvd Heine Brothers on Sunday, August 14 · 3:00pm – 4:30pm, who want to start a workgroup for bringing modern mass transit (back) to Louisville. Not going to debate the kind of mass transit, but definitely brainstorm on how to make this kind of thing happen.

    Find out more at facebook.com/L4MMT

  7. This is the kind of investment that creating not just a transportation solution but a tourist attraction as well. Many people would come just to ride the streetcar. Well worth the investment.

  8. I love this idea as well.

    I’m encouraged too that Peggy Baas has said that the West Market streetscape improvements are set to go to bid any day now. I think this is the final study: http://www.louisvilleky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/90DB90BD-049B-4D2C-9996-AE65DA0E3EDA/0/WestMarketStreetStudyFINAL.pdf

    And, while I’m not sure if it’s part of the corridor improvement plan above, I hear that Shawnee High School is going to get a solid facelift on the Market side as well.

    This all bodes very well for the area, which definitely needs a helping hand right now.

    Best,
    – Chuck

  9. @Darren Embry – San Francisco also has a lot of the original Louisville Trolley cars, fully restored. I would love to see these brought back. They made sense when they were originally put into the city and they still make sense now.

  10. Steve, just a minor point… as far as my research has found, none of the streetcars operating in San Francisco today actually operated in Louisville. There’s a batch of streetcars there painted in various other cities’ historical liveries, of which one of them, #1062, is painted in Louisville Railway colors as a tribute to all the cities that “could have been” PCC territory. That’s what you’re probably thinking of.

    The car I linked to earlier, TTC #4684, was *literally* one of 25 PCC cars ordered in 1944(?) by Louisville Railway but never put into service here. The 25 were sold to Cleveland, operated there for a while, and then sold to Toronto where they kept them running until the 1980s. TTC #4684 was originally Louisville Railway #509.

    Of course if any other streetcars from Louisville survive today I’d like to know.

  11. @Darren If knew about some of them ending up in Toronto, I believe there’s a picture on the net of one of those even. Your research on San Francisco may mean I’ve misrepresented some facts to about 10,000 people over the last decade. Oops. I’m going to look into this some more.

  12. Stephen, the $5,000,000 for the hybrid buses even if doubled to include maintenance costs would be even be a drop in the bucket compared to what it would cost to start up a streetcar line! It would probably take that much just for the studies to see if it’s feasible. I’m sure the entire project that would be several $100’s millions.

  13. cincinnatis street car line is costing about $150 million, Seattles is somewhere in that ballpark too…and portland has spent about $300 million. Louisville would be looking at an investment of about $200 million for the length of the line…i personally think this is a great investment. Louisville needs to look towards the future, and that is mass transit…The current system is hardly helping the city enough…

  14. If cost is the issue, how is it we can find $2 billion dollars to fund more interstate through the heart of our downtown, which primarily benefits useless -THROUGH- traffic, folks going from A-to-C where “B” is Louisville? We need to stop encouraging THROUGH traffic and start building out our local infrastructure. This city needs BYPASSES to go around it, and local, world-class mass transit. Not more sprawl and certainly not more downtown interstate. Just my opinion…

  15. @Chuck Burke I’m totally with you on this one…its time to invest in local infrastructure…and not just roads, how many water main breaks have we had in the last few months? not mention this power outage, its time to bury power lines in a city where storms are a 100% possibility…So many things that need to be done, yet so few dollars to pass around, at least Jackie Green gets to have us all chip in on her groceries though…lol

  16. @Josh Linke – Hi Josh… Jackie is a guy, and I’m not sure what the grocery comment is about, but I’m with you on the rest of this. A MAJOR (and smart, not more of the same old) infrastructure rebuild would be good for the country and a good kickstart to the economy, something needed much more desperately right now than deficit reduction.

  17. @Chuck Burke
    Most of the polls agree with your opinion. Just build the east end bridge and but as the majority of the traffic from downtown. The problem is the politicians who run Louisville want to attract people downtown instead and having them bypass it! Until we get a change in the political climate we’re stuck with this plan.

  18. Part of the motivation for the inclusion of the downtown ORBP and the east end tunnel is to make the project as expensive as possible so that tolls are necessary. If the east end bridge is tolled it will not be possible to require non-local trucks, including haz-mat, to bypass the city. Very few people will use the east end bridge if they are hit with a $2-3 toll plus a $7-12 one-time administrative fee. If you care about increased transit options for Louisville your top priority should be stopping the economically suicidal downtown ORBP.

  19. @Stunoland – This is the first I’ve heard of this, but I’m not surprised. The story gets more depressing the longer it goes on. Are there any stories out there with more details on this?

  20. Marcus Green with the C-J will be covering the insane administrative fee soon. WFPL is raising funds to cover the environmental impact of the ORBP. I am lobbying for them to include the inefficient post-ORBP traffic patterns that will result from the tolls and administrative fees. Speak up for the silent super-majority. Prevent the biggest urban planning mistake of the 21st century. Divide the project, not the community. Build the east end bridge now, toll-free. Save Louisville.

  21. Truthfully it seems like this is a good place for money to be spent, connecting not only west to downtown but also west to east. How can you get more bang for your buck then that?@Mark

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