Waco, TX — Business Leaders Encourage Streetcars
Rail Transit Online, January 2010
The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce's director of urban development says a downtown streetcar could help revitalize the area that "....has been stagnant for 50 years." Chris McGowan studied other communities over the past 18 months that have benefited from streetcars, such as Portland and Little Rock, and found potential advantages for Waco.
McGowan and a core of streetcar boosters are starting a campaign to build public support for a project starting with a $300,000 feasibility study by Waco Transit. Agency General Manager John Hendrickson expects approval by March, financed by federal
economic stimulus funds.
"What's important is we get all the vacant property that's in this greater downtown area back into some sort of useful purpose so we can provide more services as a community and increase revenue for the city, and so we can thrive and keep up with our neighbors surrounding us that are growing very fast," McGowan told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "A streetcar can go a long way to that."
In his presentation to civic and business groups, McGowan said a streetcar system would harmonize with the city's 40-year master plan, would provide environmentally-friendly transportation between the Baylor
University campus and downtown for students and staff, and would also encourage growth.
A provisional 3.5-mi. (5.6 km) route would connect Baylor with downtown along Fourth and Fifth streets, with a second phase crossing the Brazos River to East Waco. Phase 3 would extend the line to a new high-tech research park Baylor is planning to develop.
Once the concept is proven, said McGowan, it will be time to look for financing. "We need to apply for start-up grants, and we need to seek funding from all of our partners — local, state and federal — to get it done," he told the Waco Tribune-Herald.