Birmingham — Trolley Go-Ahead
Rail Transit Online, January 2005
Members of the Jefferson County Commission on Dec. 14
were scheduled to approve spending $25 million to construct a four-mile (6.4
km) streetcar starter line through the downtown area that could be ready for
revenue service by the end of 2007 (see RTOL, Oct. 15, 2004). A majority of
commissioners voiced approval of the project during a Dec. 9 meeting,
indicating that they would seek federal funding at a future date once the
project was underway. Local funding would come from the annual reappraisal
of residential property. The commissioners decided to move ahead with the
trolley proposal, which would likely use replica heritage cars, following a
study by consultants Jordon Jones & Goulding.
“We will start in the downtown and get some streetcars
running,” Commission President Larry Langford told the Birmingham News.
“Then we'll go south to the Vestavia Hills area, up to North Birmingham,
west to the Fairfield area and out to East Lake. We'll go as far as those
dollars will allow us to go, which will give us time to put in place new
money to continue the expansion.” Langford contends some of Birmingham’s
original streetcar tracks, now buried under layers of asphalt, can be
re-used. Still waiting in the wings is an $87-million federal appropriation
for rail transit arranged by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama that can’t
be spent until the county can provide a 20 percent match. Still to be
decided is whether the rail system would be operated by a yet-to-be-formed
rail agency or the existing Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority.