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Omaha - January 2004

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Omaha, NE — Daub advocates rail trolley from Gallup to Old Market

Omaha World-Herald, January 2004



Former Mayor Hal Daub attempted to get the idea of a trolley system back on track Thursday by suggesting a new downtown route running from the new Gallup University campus to the base of the 10th Street Bridge near the Old Market.

During a Metropolitan Transit Authority public hearing, Daub said MAT officials too quickly dismissed a light rail system as too expensive by relying on an ambitious five-year-old plan to stretch a trolley system all the way from 24th and Lake to the Henry Doorly Zoo.

The $45 million to $75 million price tag the MAT consultants put on the up-front cost ignores the new development along the riverfront, Daub told those at the hearing at St. Paul United Methodist Church at 54th and Maple Streets.

"There is no way a system would cost that much," Daub said. The federal government would provide 80 percent of the money, so even at $45 million, he said, only $9 million would have to be raised locally.

Daub and Steve Anderson, who runs the gondolas on the Heartland of America Park lake, said they have estimates that a riverfront trolley could be built for $7 million.

"You may end up with a for-profit competitor," Daub told MAT officials, "that will cherry-pick your customers."

Bob Braun, chairman of the MAT board, said he wasn't worried about a for-profit light rail system. He also insisted the board that oversees the bus system is not philosophically opposed to a trolley on rails.

MAT had no choice in studying the old light-rail proposal, Braun said, under federal rules.

Braun said a new study might find a practical use for a trolley system, but one running from a planned central bus hub near 24th and Farnam Streets and 10th Street.

Anderson said his concept involves a fleet of up to four trolleys in an old-style design running up and down 10th Street and Riverfront Road serving four downtown hotels, Gallup and the new Omaha Convention Center and Arena with a one-way charge of $1 to $2.

Light rail is a national success story, Daub said. There are 190 U.S. cities where light rail and trolley systems are under construction or in the planning stages, he said.

Anderson's ideas have been presented to the Omaha Planning Department, Daub said, in the first step in gaining right of way for the track.


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