Birmingham — Streetcars in Less than Two Years
Rail Transit Online, January 2008
The executive director of the local transit authority has developed a $33-million plan to build and equip a 1 -mi. (1.6 km) heritage streetcar line by the end of 2009. It would run between 111 Avenue North and Linn
Park, using portions of 18th and 20th streets, according to an outline presented by David Hill to the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority board of directors on Dec. 20. Hill said his proposal was developed at the request of Mayor Larry Langford. "The mayor was very direct on it," Hill told The Birmingham News. "If he wants streetcars, I'm going to put them on the street." Hill also said he's certain the job can be completed
in the time allotted, including construction of a maintenance facility. Later extensions would be built, according to Hill, bringing the per-mile cost down because the maintenance base and yard would not have to be duplicated.
The authority reportedly would be able to purchase 10 fully-operable Peter Witt cars, built in the late 1920s, from Milan, Italy, for between $25,000 and $35,000 each. The only major work needed would be the addition of air conditioning. Six of the cars would be used to operate a 10-min. service every day between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The remaining four cars would be for expansion.
Hill and city officials are planning a trip to Milan in June to inspect the cars and possibly buy them. Meanwhile, according to Hill's preliminary schedule, an RFP for the maintenance building would be released next June 1, with construction starting on Nov. 1. Funding would come from the approximately $15 million generated annually by a business license fee but the authority would need an advance from the city to get the project started. The streetcar would be part of an overall upgrading of transit service in Birmingham, including the purchase of 100 new buses and initiation of Sunday service.