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New Orleans, LA
   

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New Orleans, Louisiana

Post Katrina Developments

After the multi-year project to bring the New Orleans streetcar system back to life following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the most significant development has been planning and construction of streetcar extensions. Thanks to the award of Federal Katrina recovery funding then stimulus-related funding following the financial downturn, the city has been able to move forward on two extensions. The first is a new branch from Canal Street running along Loyola Avenue south (or up river) about 1-mile to the Union Passenger Terminal rail and intercity bus station. This line opened to the public on January 28, 2013 and economic development is evident along the route, as had been hoped when the line was planned.

The below photo shows a streetcar on the new Loyola/Union Passenger Terminal line. Track is laid along the neutral ground (median) with stations on the left. Civic leaders are confident the line will spark redevelopment of the vacant land to the right.

Streetcar on Loyola

As the Loyola line was built, planning has moved forward on another branch from Canal this time heading north (or down river) from nearly the same point on Canal onto North Rampart Street, along the edge of the French Quarter, then following St. Claude as far as Elysian Fields. Funding is being sought to extend the line on to Poland Avenue, near the Industrial Canal and the former terminus of the Desire line.

The news notes below report on the evolution of these new lines:

Hurricane Katrina

When Hurricane Katrina breached the levees in New Orleans on August 29, 2005, it devastated the city's streetcar lines along with a large percentage of the city. The historic St. Charles line stayed mostly above water but the storm's winds knocked over trees damaging trolley wire and tracks, meaning the line would be out of service for an extended period. The Riverfront and Canal lines saw less track and wire damage, but the power rectifiers and cars were severely flooded at the Randolph SIS, meaning substantial overhaul will be required. Partial service was restored just before Christmas 2005 using undamaged historic Perley-Thomas cars from the St. Charles line. The service was restored to the rest of Canal in April 2006 using Perley-Thomas cars and a portable power substation borrowed from Boston. The first stretch of the St. Charles line--from Canal to Lee Circle--resumed service just before Christmas 2006. On November 10, 2007 service resumed on St. Charles as far as Napolean Avenue, then was extended to the end of St. Charles Avenue at South Carrollton in December. The rest of the line was due to see service in Spring 2008.

Click on the photos below to enlarge these views taken in March 2008 showing streetcar service in New Orleans using the classic Perley-Thomas cars, with all lines except for the outer portion of St. Charles in service:

In an image that could have been taken before 1964, Perley Thomas cars run on Canal.

St. Charles service temporarily ending at Riverbend, the intersection of St. Charles and S. Carrolton.

In a scene once unthinkable, car 972 returns to Canal. It was the very last Canal car in May 1964.

Two generations of Carrollton leadership: superintendent Will Mullett confers with his retired predecessor, the legenday Elmer von Dullen.

The first step in rehabbing the Canal cars is repainting (then covering in plastic as protection from pigeons).

 

Click on the photos below to enlarge these views taken in May 2007 showing interim streetcar service in New Orleans:

A car on the St. Charles to Lee Circle shuttle. No streetcar service is provided farther out the line.

A typical view on St. Charles shows new bracket arms installed but no trolley wire yet.

A Perley Thomas car passes a nearly abandoned stretch of Canal Street near Claiborne.

A 900-series car from St. Charles pulls into the Canal terminus at the Cemeteries as its bretheren did for 40 years.

Perley Thomas cars run also on the new branch to City Park.

The St. Charles cars are not configured for boarding from the front left door so Canal passengers cross to the right hand door.

Nearly the entire Perley Thomas fleet now is stationed at Randolph SIS, the former Canal Station.

Some auto traffic is returning to Canal in Mid City. The area was a near ghost town a year earlier.

One of the less than 4 year old Canal cars shows the rust caused by two weeks in very polluted flood water.

 

Click on the link below for an article from the Times Picayune describing the St. Charles restoration:

See news notes below from November 2005 and later for more detail about recovery from Katrina.

In late April, 2006 subcommittee member Jim Schantz visited New Orleans and filed this report on status of the city and the streetcar system:

On April 18, 2004 the New Orleans streetcar system marked a milestone as streetcars returned to Canal Street after an absence of 40 years.  Click on the link below for photos of the Canal line opening:

Follow this link for an Overview of the New Orleans streetcar system, including the classic St. Charles line, the newer Riverfront line, the newly  built Canal line, and the planned Desire line.

The following news notes from Rail Transit Online provide an overview of developments in New Orleans' streetcar system:

The notes below deal with post-Katrina developments in New Orleans:

The following links reference New Electric Railway Journal articles (reproduced in this site's Articles section):

Click below for the system's web site:

For more on the New Orleans system click on:

 
   


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