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Streetcar Investments Including Recreational Destinations

The US Department of Transportation this week awarded nearly $300 in grants as part of the administration’s livability initiative to better coordinate transportation, housing and commercial development investments to serve the people living in those communities. The funds come from the Urban Circulator Grant Program and the Bus and Bus Livability Grant Program.

Streetcars were funded in Cincinnati, St. Louis, Charlotte and Fort Worth, and one noticeable piece of those cities’ plans is not only to connect downtown employment centers, but route streetcars through and by major recreational destinations such as parks. As FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff noted, “Streetcars are making a comeback because cities across America are recognizing that they can restore economic development downtown – giving citizens the choice to move between home, shopping and entertainment without ever looking for a parking space.”

Cincinnati, which received $25 million for its route, is planning a line that will hit the city’s riverfront park and stadia, the soon-to-be-renovated Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine, 20-acre Inwood Park north of downtown, and the Zoo and Botanical garden at the northern end. In St. Louis, which also received $25 million, a street car route will link up the city’s signature green space, Forest Park along with the University District.

Other already-built streetcars also have linked to key recreation destinations, such as Seattle’s Lake Union Trolley linking up with the park of the same name. Streetcars are being touted for their potential effect on economic development, and including these recreational destinations, along with employment and residential may be a key to their success. It is encouraging to see the federal government including a variety of factors in these investments — and living up to the goals of its livability initiative.

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