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Baltimore - November 2011

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Baltimore — Streetcar Advocates Move to Next Step

Rail Transit Online, November 2011

A private group advocating a streetcar line along Charles Street has hired a community organizer to advance the project among elected officials. Robin Budish, former executive director of the Historic Charles Street Association, assumed the full-time post on Nov. 1. He was hired by Friends of the Trolley Inc., a grass-roots all-volunteer organization that has been gathering information on the project, including technology, construction and financing data, for the past six years.

The 7.5-mi. (12 km) route would primarily run along the one-way couplet of Charles and St. Paul streets from the Convention Center to West University Parkway. It's hoped that a still undefined hybrid technology with on-board energy storage could be adopted that would allow the elimination of overhead wires.

Also working on the project is the Charles Street Development Corp., a longtime streetcar supporter, and the Charles Street Trolley Corp., both of which have strong ties to city government. David Funk, chairman of the latter organization, told the Baltimore Sun, "As a corporate entity, our goal is to persuade the mayor through our analysis of the project that it's a good project for Baltimore."

The two corporations hope that the project could help revitalize the central city, attracting tourists and promoting redevelopment and retail activity along the struggling corridor. However, although Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has indicated she likes the proposal, no money is available for construction and none is in sight. "If a viable source can be developed, we can move forward with talks of implementation," mayoral Press Secretary Ian Brennan told the Baltimore Sun. 'The way the city is moving now, we can't build something and hope for funding. We need to have the money and then we can do it." Current estimates price the streetcar at between $150 million and $200 million.


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