Latest route through Downtown, West End and Hawthorne Hill / Ardmore. This will connect Winston-Salem's two big skylines (CBD and Hawthorne Hill).
It looks like great news for Fourth Street and Burke Street bars, clubs and restaurants! This will run right by their doors and by the proposed baseball stadium site! I also like running the line down Main Street to the Wachovia Center! Keeping the cost of the first line (Green Line) to $40-50 million is also great news. The report will be finished by October and work should start then on raising money to bring back the Sprague System Streetcars that once connected the city's grand resort hotel to downtown and the Victorian neighborhoods around the core.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Revised streetcar plan runs on more of Fourth Street
Engineers now to work on details such as costs and the numbers of riders to be expected
By Jim Sparks
The route of a proposed streetcar system linking Piedmont Triad Research Park, downtown Winston-Salem and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center has changed.
Designers with HDR Engineering Inc. the company studying the feasibility of streetcars in the city, unveiled the revisions during a drop-in presentation yesterday afternoon at City Hall South.
The new 2.6-mile route calls for streetcars to run in a figure-eight pattern downtown and in both directions on more of Fourth Street than originally conceived.
The streetcars would be guided by rails in the road and powered by electricity from small overhead lines. They would run with traffic and stop at red lights, just like buses.
Preliminary plans had called for a roughly 3-mile route that ran one way from Fourth through downtown and on Fifth to Summit Street and back to Burke.
From there, it ran in both directions on First Street and Hawthorne Road, as far as the medical center.
Charles Hales, a vice president with HDR, said that the changes eliminate problem turns and improve the way the route flows.
He also said that moving more of the route to Fourth Street made sense because it looks as if it will have more activity.
"Fourth Street is where the intensity is going to be," Hales said.
With an initial workable route proposed, engineers will begin focusing on the other aspects of the project including exactly what it will cost, how to pay for it and the number of people expected to ride it. Estimates now call for the first phase of the project to run between $40 million and $50 million to build and cost about $2.5 million a year to operate, engineers said.
The revisions cut costs by shortening the route and disturbing fewer underground utilities, consultants said.
Keeping costs as low as possible would make it easier for the community to support the project, Hales said.
"We want the initial segment to be long enough to be a good project but we don't want to put in more than is needed to get started," Hales said.
Potential extensions include lines south to Old Salem and the N.C. School of the Arts, north to Wake Forest University, the fairgrounds and sports complex and east to Winston-Salem State University.
The study should be finished by this October, officials said.
The study is being paid for with a $140,000 federal grant and about $35,000 from by the city of Winston-Salem's Department of Transportation.
Winston-Salem had an extensive streetcar system in the early 1900s but, as in many cities, the tracks were abandoned as more people began to drive cars.
Most of the original tracks were covered by street paving and are still found by construction workers.
City officials and downtown leaders have researched how light rail, including streetcars, has succeeded in other cities, such as Portland, Ore., which paid for its system with federal grants, private money and money from property owners who benefit from being on the routes.
Light-rail lines are seen as a long-term and permanent investment that drives economic development.
• Jim Sparks can be reached at 727-7301 or at [email protected]