Controlling costs: Loop Trolley’s clang less than other projects

The Loop Trolley reached another important milestone this month, as traffic barriers on Delmar Boulevard came down for the holiday season, accommodating the needs and requests of Delmar Loop merchants.

The last truckload of concrete was poured in the Delmar Loop several weeks ahead of schedule, completing more than 50 percent of the trolley tracks. The tracks are complete from Kingsland to Skinker, and most sections from Skinker to the Wabash Station also are complete.

Traffic in the Delmar Loop is now back to normal and businesses are getting ready for seasonal shoppers. Holiday lights soon will be strung on new light poles, which were installed and equipped with electrical outlets as part of the Loop Trolley project.

• The new roundabout at the western entrance to the Delmar Loop has added a safer, smoother and more beautiful entrance to the district.

• The Loop Trolley project replaced the aging DeBaliviere Avenue bridge over the MetroLink tracks at Forest Park Parkway, and completed the work several weeks ahead of schedule.

• A beautiful expansion of the St. Vincent Greenway along DeBaliviere is currently under construction, extending a bicycle and pedestrian pathway to Forest Park, which has become very important to the surrounding neighborhoods. Great Rivers Greenway has been a great partner on this important transportation project.

All of this work is being done at less than half the cost of similar streetcar systems in other cities. The $51 million 2.2-mile Loop Trolley is arguably the most cost-effective major streetcar project in the country at just $16.77 million per mile of track.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based Community Streetcar Coalition, the cost of track for recent streetcar projects ranges from $36.76 million per mile in Cincinnati to $28.26 million per mile in Tucson and $22.43 million per mile Portland, Oregon.

On the other side of our state, the recently completed 2.2-mile Kansas City Streetcar cost $102 million. Ours is just $51 million for the same route distance.

Most important is the value the Loop Trolley will bring to the St. Louis region in the form of clean electric transportation, connectivity, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, increased tourism and economic development along the entire route.

Every day, I hear from merchants and residents who are very excited about the Loop Trolley and the benefits it will afford St. Louis. We can’t wait to ring that trolley bell!

Joe Edwards is owner of Blueberry Hill and board chairman of the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District.

St. Louis Business Journal © November 2015

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