Street cars could be coming to Houston

May 20, 2010 4:24:52 PM PDT
It's a part of town that has undergone a major transformation over the past few years. Washington Avenue has become one of the city's busiest night scenes, and it can even be difficult at times finding a parking spot during the day. A new proposal could change that, and help the environment -- a modern version of the old-fashioned trolley. At Les Givrals on Washington Avenue, business has been good since it opened just two weeks ago. But, it's nothing compared to what the owner imagines it could be if a street car was built in front of his business.

Qui Ly Les said, "I think it would be great for the street and make it more of a destination."

The street car would look like a modern version of those found in San Francisco and New Orleans. The route it would cover would be a three-mile stretch from the downtown light rail line to the northwest transit center. The idea is to lessen the amount of vehicles in the area making it more walker-friendly.

"Right now, there's too much traffic on this street," said Raju Huary of Midtown Foodmart. "They need to do that. It would help a lot."

The street car concept is the brain child of the Super Neighborhood 22, a group of civic clubs along the Washington Avenue corridor. They believe a trolley car would be a lot more neighborhood friendly than light rail, which has been proposed in the past.

Jane West with Super Neighborhood 22 explained, "It's cheaper than light rail to install. It's much quicker to install. It's much lower impact on the surrounding businesses."

But, there is still the cost -- about $20 million a mile. The group is currently trying to convince lawmakers to apply for federal funding to help pay for the construction. Councilman Ed Gonzalez, however, says a lot of work still needs to be done.

He said, "It might be a good idea in concept, but how will it be implemented? Do we have the funds? How will it be managed?"

Neighbors who live and work in the area can add their input at a meeting early next week. Super Neighborhood 22 is holding a community meeting Monday, May 24 at the Depelchin Children's Center. It gets started at 6:30pm.


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