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Loyola Streetcar Opens
by Sarah Esenwein
Just in time to carry hordes of Super Bowl revelers and dignitaries, it’s a streetcar celebration today in New Orleans as the Loyola Ave. Streetcar line was officially opened by government officials from city, state and federal entities. On Monday morning, all channels of government representatives convened at the Amtrak Train station in tribute to this corridor that will reconnect the community, spur job growth and economic development.
The new line will start at the Union Passenger Terminal and run down Loyola Ave., connecting with the existing Canal streetcar line in both directions. Funding for this project faced a competitive and arduous grant process, and the staunch efforts from the Mayor’s office to Capitol Hill were auspiciously tireless.
The timeliness of this project’s completion was of utmost importance to Mayor Landrieu as the some 5,000 members of the media ready to come to New Orleans for the Super Bowl this weekend.
“We want the world to see that this isn’t just some red box on a rail, it is a pathway to prosperity.” said Mayor Mitch.
He spoke on the situation of ‘talk being only air passing through lips’ and that this streetcar line was evidence that something tangible can be created, from conception to completion. “Our Loyola Street Car line is Ground Zero for the Nation” in concerns of being able to rebuild and rebuild successfully, Landrieu said.
In the words of Jackie Clarkson, VP of the City Council, “It took a village of villages” to move this seemingly daunting paradigm into reality. Playing "Godfather" to the Loyola Streetcar project is the Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood. If for not his investment in and belief in the city, the more than $45 million needed to move this car down the tracks, hell, to get the track themselves laid period, would be but a financial fantasy.
Thanks to his personal advocation, funding for the project was secured from Obama’s Stimulus Package through the TIGER transportation grants, and became the first ever street car grant given to a city. With this money allotted, city officials of the Regional Traffic Authority, Justin Augustine and Barbara Major wanted to show Washington just exactly what New Orleans was capable of.
“When New Orleans wants something, New Orleans builds it,” said Congressman Cedric Richmond.
And build it they did. Built it so well, New Orleans streetcars could soon be found across the nation, servicing a resurging ‘Streetcar Renissance’, said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. He impressed that the Loyola Streetcar project “Is doing exactly what the Recovery Act was intended to do; which is to spur immediate job growth and continued economic development.”
Drawing parallels between the challenges faced by New Orleans after Katrina and the North East after Hurricane Sandy; he applauded our city as being a blueprint for recovery and rebuilding.
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