We may be dodging streetcars in the 14th Ward sooner than we’d thought, if RTA‘s plans come to fruition:
If an aggressive plan being pursued by the Regional Transit Authority succeeds—and odds are it will—tourists and residents might get an unexpected Christmas gift. They’ll be able to ride the streetcar the entire length of St. Charles Avenue.
Fred Basha, the RTA‘s director of infrastructure, said Thursday that he’s convinced the streetcar line’s Calliope Street substation can generate enough power to move historic green Perley Thomas cars all the way from the Central Business District to South Carrollton Avenue. At the moment, service ends at Napoleon Avenue, about halfway along the St. Charles route.
The plan would not affect the rest of the streetcar route, along South Carrollton to South Claiborne Avenue, which would remain offline.
If the RTA can overcome three other obstacles, service along the length of the avenue could resume before Christmas Eve, Basha said.
The obstacles: The RTA has to have workers paint the poles that support the electrified system of overhead wires, which rainy weather could delay. Operators who were laid off after Hurricane Katrina must be rehired. And the state has to certify that the portion of the line between Napoleon and Carrollton is safe to use.
“There’s also some testing of that portion of the line that needs to be done, but I don’t expect that to be a problem,” Basha said. “It’s aggressive, but I think we can have it operational before Christmas Eve.”
The transit authority has seemed to be showing some renewed interest in fixing the section of the streetcar route around these parts in recent weeks. And getting the walking distance down to 7/10 of a mile may be enough for me to leave the car at home.