In 1997, a community planning group engaged in a collaborative process with the City of St. Louis, University City, and Metro to explore ways of cultivating development around the Delmar MetroLink Station, an area of pedestrian concern.
Joe Edwards, owner of Blueberry Hill and a staunch promoter of The Delmar Loop revitalization, suggested a revival of the streetcar system that gave The Loop its name. He proposed the Loop Trolley to help attract the kind of development needed to extend the Delmar streetscape and link the Delmar MetroLink Station to The Loop.
Metro helped finance a $200,000 feasibility study that estimated the cost of a new streetcar system. The study, completed in December 2000, suggested that an electric trolley line was indeed feasible and even more efficient and effective than a system of buses disguised to look like trolleys.
The study showed that a fixed-track system offered long-term viability, with a 70 percent higher ridership than a rubber-tire system. While a fixed-track system would cost more to build, the operating costs are almost identical.
Citizens for Modern Transit (CMT), along with Joe Edwards and others, created the non-profit Loop Trolley Company (LTC). CMT secured a grant from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments and the Missouri Department of Transportation to purchase and renovate two historic vehicles for the new line.
A preliminary engineering study wrapped up in May of 2011, and the Federal Transit Administration gave the project the green light. Final engineering is underway and construction began in 2014 with utility upgrades. C construction of the Loop Trolley system began in March 2015 and is expected to be complete in late 2016.
Photo: Joe Edwards with one of the Portland trolleys.