Everywhere I've traveled in the past three years, Americans have made it clear that when it comes to getting around, they want options that fit the unique needs of their communities. The Obama Administration certainly understands the value of providing transportation choices, and that includes modern streetcars that reflect the character of the communities they serve.
As part of that commitment, yesterday the Federal Transit Administration kicked off the first ever Streetcar Conference in Portland, Oregon, to help transportation planners from around the country figure out how to build and manage great streetcar projects in their communities.
Today as a highlight of the conference, FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff will join Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Tom Miller, and TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane to showcase Portland’s SW Moody Avenue reconstruction.
This project is a terrific example of how well-planned and executed transit projects can serve as a catalyst for economic development. The project is truly multi-modal, bringing bus and light rail service to the neighborhood, strengthening connections to the Portland Aerial Tram and Portland Streetcar, and enhancing bicycle and pedestrian access. Portland used $23 million in TIGER funds to create dual streetcar tracks, widen Moody Avenue, and raise it 14 feet to link with a transit bridge that accommodates streetcar, light rail, bus, bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
When I helped break ground on the Moody Avenue project last March, I saw firsthand how investments in transit like this one can create a ripple effect, stimulating economic development and creating jobs while easing congestion and improving our environment.
But Portland isn’t the only city reintroducing modern urban streetcars to the American landscape. Since 2010, DOT has provided nearly $350 million in funding for 11 streetcar and urban circulator projects across the country.
Today, streetcars in New Orleans and Tucson are under construction. Dallas, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City are currently designing their own streetcars. Tampa extended its popular TECO Line Streetcar System, which has already created billions of dollars in economic development. And Cincinnati will break ground very soon on the Queen's City's unique streetcar project.
It’s simple: this streetcar revival means greater mobility and more American jobs. DOT will continue to improve public transit services by supporting these critical projects that create jobs today and livable communities and economic redevelopment tomorrow.