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Little Rock - September 2001
   

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Little Rock — Ready to Begin

Rail Transit Online, September 2001

Bids for the $815,000 River Rail streetcar maintenance facility were scheduled to be advertised by the end of August following unanimous approval by the Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA) on Aug. 21.  The barn will be built at Seventh and Main streets in North Little Rock and is expected to be completed by next June 1.  Three other bid packages, including the traction power system and the complex job of modifying the Main Street Bridge to carry trolleys, will be advertised by January. Meanwhile, the federal government has recently released two grants for River Rail totaling nearly $6 million. Work on the four replica vintage streetcars ordered from Gomaco is proceeding and the first one should be finished in December. River Rail officials said Gomaco has agreed to store completed trolleys at its plant for a $100 monthly insurance fee until the maintenance facility is ready. CATA and Entergy Corp., the local electric utility, are continuing negotiations on moving the company’s underground lines. The city is expected to ask that the work be done at Entergy’s expense under terms of its franchise agreement. The $15.7-million project is set to open in the summer of 2003 on a 2.1-mile route between downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. 

Streetcar Expansion

Even though the first shovel of earth for the River Rail streetcar project has yet to be turned, CATA officials are holding public meetings to discuss possible extensions and a potential light rail network linking Little Rock with adjoining cities. When the first 2.1-mile, $15.7-million trolley route is completed in mid-2003, it will connect the downtowns of Little Rock and North Little Rock, which are separated by the Arkansas River.  CATA is already planning a second phase to the proposed Bill Clinton presidential library east of Interstate 30. “I could see a 10-mile network of streetcars in the two downtowns whether we ever do a light-rail system or not,” CATA Executive Director Keith Jones told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “And I can see commuter rail on a track-sharing basis or light rail independent of the streetcars.” Planners want to get some direction from residents and business leaders on where lines and stations should be located. “We hope to get an idea of what people are interested in…so we can prioritize where the streetcars will go next and also prioritize our funding requests,” said CATA Planning Manager Terri Hollingsworth Davis. For example, Little Rock's Downtown Neighborhood Association last year recommended streetcars stopping at the state Capitol, Central High School, south Main Street and the state Fairgrounds. 

 

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