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Wilmington - November 2001
   

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Wilmington, DE — Trolley Reaches A Crossroads

Rail Transit Online, November 2001

Plans for a downtown heritage streetcar line are in jeopardy now that Gov. Ruth Ann Minner is looking at the project with a jaundiced eye.  The proposed two-mile route would use replica cars and would serve commercial, retail and tourist destinations along Market Street in the northern part of the rundown central business district starting at Rodney Square.  The tracks would pass the Amtrak station and terminate at the redeveloped Christina riverfront area.  This summer, the Delaware Department of Transportation withdrew $41.5 million of state and federal money for the project from the department's six-year guideline for capital spending.  Now, the governor said she will meet with city officials and business leaders before deciding whether to kill the trolley for good.  “We will sit down and take a look at it.  Is it something critical?  Is it affordable?,” Delaware Transportation Secretary Nathan Hayward III told the Wilmington News Journal.  Early estimates found that the project would cost $37 million, carry a million riders a year and help stimulate badly needed economic development.  But according to Hayward, the state has found that capital costs would probably be higher and ridership lower.  Also skeptical is the new mayor, James M. Baker, but he is willing to let planning work continue while awaiting new cost and patronage figures from Parsons Brinckerhoff, which is currently carrying out preliminary engineering.  Supporters are hoping to obtain 70 percent of the financing from the federal government, and $6 million has already been allocated.  Another $4 million is included in the Senate version of the 2002 transportation spending bill.

 

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