Lorain — Heritage Trolley
From 1894 to 1938, Electric Streetcars carried the people of Lorain and
Elyria from their homes to their shops, jobs and recreation. Lorain's growth
from the 1890's to the 1930's was based on the industrial expansion in the
area beginning with Tom Johnson's simultaneous construction of a steel plant
to roll streetcar rail and a street railway to connect Lorain and Elyria
with the works. It is fitting that a Heritage Trolley System become part of
the "New" 2005 Lorain Development as it played a key part in the "New" 1895
In order to implement the restoration of the streetcar system in Lorain,
OH a Community Improvement Corporation (501-c3) has been formed. This
Lorain Street Railway Inc. will be made up of members from the Lorain Port
Authority, City of Lorain, Mainstreet Lorain, Chamber of Commerce, Lorain
County Metroparks, Developers, Civic Leaders and other persons knowledgeable
in the field. The wide range of membership is an indication of the
community support behind this project.
Lorain Street Railway Inc. commits to be a catalyst in bringing an
historic streetcar system back to downtown Lorain. By recapturing a
fascinating part of our past, this system will enhance the city's quality of
life and provide opportunities for economic growth.
We recognize that the need for improved mobility coupled with nostalgia
to preserve and improve the livability of the city for its residents, points
to a return to an electric streetcar tying together new waterfront
development with existing businesses can accomplish a number of worthwhile
goals such as:
A streetcar system can provide a visible and attractive means of mobility
linking the Waterfront Development Areas with Lorain's Downtown Business and
Commercial District. A "Funnel Effect" to provide more flow between these
two community assets. The system allows you to rethink the percentage of
land normally allotted to parking by concentrating parking areas in less
desirable areas and connecting them to attractions by rail. No place in the
area serviced by the proposed system is more then 10 minutes away from any
place else on the system, rain or shine. Land hitherto considered out of
the scope of current development can be easily incorporated into the program
by being included in the transportation system.
The technology of an electric streetcar is consistent with the urban
design framework of the area, and thus helps to visually unify it. The
permanent nature of the corridor signifies commitment.
A Heritage Trolley is an
environmentally friendly, pollution free, all weather, Transportation System.
The streetcar system serving Downtown Lorain can provide a high-capacity
circulation link, connecting large parking areas to the south with the
various waterfront facilities being developed.
The combination of dedicated service and expanded parking intercepts can
increase access for visitors of our hotels, shops, and restaurants while
increasing the ability of the city to safely handle the large crowds
experienced during waterfront events.
The use of the streetcar system as a development tool can minimize land
wasted on parking and bring land hitherto excluded from development into the
Reminiscent of streetcars of the past, a restored streetcar line would be
an attraction in itself, and thus add to the appeal and charm of a visit to
With these goals in mind, Lorain Street Railway Inc. has created a
feasibility study of restoring an electric trolley in Lorain. Below is a
summary of that work.
Experience and Benefits Realized in
In recent years, a number of American cities and towns have built vintage
streetcar lines or have begun planning for such a system. For operating
systems, surveys in various cities have shown that the vintage streetcar
line has had a positive impact and is viewed with favor as a community
attraction. Available evidence indicates that benefits are maximized when
the streetcar is planned and implemented as part of a concerted and
broad-based program of improvements in a community. Further, the benefits
require support of business leaders, particularly those whose establishments
are served by the line. Finally, benefits accrue over a fairly long time
span, and are not realized immediately. There is a definite need to further
explore and quantify the specific economic benefits which are possible in
Lorain, and such a detailed study is highly recommended to be undertaken as
the waterfront development matures.
The streetcar route with the most development potential is a loop
starting at the proposed ball park parking lots near the Black River Boat
Launch facility, proceeding South, crossing CSX at the South side of the
former Gaylords Store, coming out onto the pavement on Elyria Avenue and
running North down the original streetcar alignment on Broadway. North of
City Hall the route swings west and enters the Pellet Terminal site, heading
East to go under the viaduct and connect to the former CSX track servicing
the Black River Landing Docks and Transportation Center. The line would
cross the Norfolk Southern Track close to the site of the original diamond
and connect back up at the ball park parking area. (see attached aerial
Since none of the areas that will be serviced by the Heritage Trolley
have reached final design status the perfect opportunity exists to maximize
its potential. The members of the Board of the Lorain Street Railway Inc.
will have been chosen to insure that the principles of Transit Oriented
Development are implemented.
Broadway uses two lanes of traffic and two lanes of parking. Fitting the
streetcar into the right-of-way will have impacts on both traffic and
parking. The streetcar line will always operate in one direction with the
cars running south to north on Broadway with the flow of traffic, returning
south on private right of way next to Black River Lane.
The streetcars will not generate exhaust and will be propelled by
electric power. Like the streetcars of by-gone days, this will require a
single wire suspended over the center of the track. Other cities have
reported no unfavorable impacts as a result of the overhead wire, provided
the system is properly designed. The support poles can also be used for
street lights and signage, and can be an attractive unifying urban design
It would be most fitting if an existing unused building close to the
proposed route could be recycled into a storage and maintenance facility for
the Heritage Trolley Line. The ideal site would be a building large enough
to both provide storage and house a museum
displaying Lorain's heritage and streetcar history and possibly serve as a repository for suitable items from the other Historical
Societies in the county.
The historical vehicles for the Lorain Street Railway will consist of a
1915 Jewett Interurban car from the Lake Shore Electric Railway and a 1925
freight motor from the Interstate Public Service System. Two PCC cars will
be obtained for daily service be equipped with air conditioning and for ADA
compliance. The system will be grown to match the conditions at Lorain.
PCC type cars will be added as the service demands with a maximum number of
six giving the most efficient crowd handling capabilities. Discussions have
been initiated concerning sharing special pieces of equipment with the
Brookins Foundation of Cleveland and other individuals.
The Lorain Street Railway will begin operation to service the large
crowds present when the large scale events occur at the Lorain Waterfront
Area. To date 300,000 to 400,000 people have been present during the 11
days per year these festivities occur. By carefully scheduling operations to
match the events a breakeven point of 50,000 riders per year can keep the
system self supporting at the planned $1.00 daily pass rate. It is not hard
to imagine the cars carrying 40% to 50% of the visitors during these
events. As the Waterfront and Downtown Lorain grows the service times will
be expanded to match demand. Special operations consisting of charter
groups for parties, picnics and weddings including the historic fleet will
add to the income. The historic cars will be utilized as living class rooms
for educational purposes as requested by the school system and special
The complete streetcar system is estimated to cost $6,463,372. This
estimate includes track, power distribution, vehicles, passenger stops, and
a maintenance facility. It also includes the Broadway track mentioned above.
Engineering and design costs are calculated as a percentage of the project.
Because of the preliminary nature of the project, a 26% contingency is
included in the overall cost estimate. The capital cost estimate will be
refined as part of the engineering and detailed design phase. The project
may be done in two parts; the first being a single track next to Black River
Lane with loops at each end to service the parking lots and the Black River
Landing at a cost of $3,507,475 with the completion of the main loop and
track down Broadway costing an additional $2,955,897.
As mentioned above careful scheduling to maximize ridership will work to
keep the system operating in the Black. The Lorain Street Railway does not
intend to operate as mass transit at this point in time. As the overall
waterfront development in Lorain grows, the system will grow with it and if
the need requires will be able to provide full time service.
The Funding portion of this project utilizes Federal, state and local
sources of funding for capital expenses. In addition there is a
significant value of vehicles, equipment, tools supplies and parts being
donated to the Lorain Street Railway Inc. to insure that the project gets
off to a very real start.
Restoration of an electric streetcar system in Lorain, as proposed by the
Lorain Street Railway Inc., can provide significant benefits to the
community, is feasible from an engineering standpoint, and appears capable
of being funded.
of Lorain's Heritage Trolley Fleet
Interurban Car to run in Lorain
Two PCC cars
will be restored with air conditioning and ADA compliance for every day