New Orleans — St. Charles Line Opens in May
Rail Transit Online, April 2008
The iconic New Orleans streetcar system should be back in full operation by early May, although restoration of the hurricane-damaged replica heritage trolley fleet may not be completed for another two years. Regional Transit Authority General Manager Mark Major announced in late March that the $14.2-million replacement of the traction power system on the outer portion of the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line is nearing completion.
However, Major would not predict an exact date for re-opening the segment along 18 blocks of Carrollton Avenue; work has already been delayed by the discovery of sub-surface damage to more than 10 support poles, requiring replacement. A significant part of the job was rebuilding three electrical sub-stations wiped out by the storm.
Using the original Perley Thomas streetcars, service resumed on segments of the Canal and St. Charles lines and the Riverfront Line over the past two years as repairs were completed. City residents and officials are eagerly looking forward to the streetcars making a full return as part of the city's comeback from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. "Putting the complete St. Charles route back in business is an important milestone in bringing normalcy to this Uptown corridor," City Councilwoman Stacy Head told the Times-Picayune. Streetcars are currently carrying about 6,000 daily riders on three routes, down from around 9,500 before the storm.
Meanwhile, work is progressing on restoring the 30 replica cars, which were originally built by RTA employees at the
Carrollton barn. Shop forces are again fabricating the bodies while Brookville Equipment Corp. is manufacturing the trucks and mechanical and electrical components. The first set is scheduled for delivery in July, after which RTA hopes to finish one streetcar every three weeks.
Most of the funding for the trolleys,
$27 million, is coming from a FEMA grant with another $3 million being provided by insurance. And the RTA has issued an Invitation for Bids for repairs to its A. Phillip Randolph facility, which was flooded and badly damaged during Katrina. The facility contains administrative offices and provides maintenance services for the streetcar and bus fleets. The replica cars were stored here and were inundated under about eight feet of water.