Cities Use Federal Funding to Back New Routes but Some Call Projects a Waste
By CAROLINE PORTER, Wall Street Journal
Cities from Los Angeles to Atlanta are making big bets to revitalize their downtowns by bringing back a form of transportation many abandoned decades ago: the streetcar.
Some cities are counting on help from federal stimulus dollars, but a few are going it alone.
Late last month, about 500 residents in one part of Kansas City, Mo., voted to create a special taxing district to raise $75 million over about two decades for a streetcar. In the same week, Cincinnati officials passed a measure to allow about $15 million to be spent on a 3.6-mile loop. And in Los Angeles, the city council approved a plan to ask voters if they are willing to pay additional taxes for a four-mile downtown streetcar loop.
Proponents say the streetcars would boost economic growth and catch the fancy of younger generations.
“Kansas City’s downtown has bled jobs, people and buildings for decades,” said David Johnson, a 38-year-old engineer and co-founder of Streetcar Neighbors, a residents group that advocates for streetcars in that city. “We’re trying to reinvigorate the downtown.”
But others see a waste of tax dollars on projects that, they say, offer little more than a way to move downtown workers from their offices to lunch.
“Portland wasn’t like a mecca before. It was another dirty midsized city,” said Mr. Johnson of Kansas City, who says he has no problem paying an extra $200 per year for the streetcar to roll into his city of 480,000.
Continue reading: Streetcar Plans Plow Ahead