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I took a ride on the trolley this afternoon and the A/C was very nice considering that it was 100 +. I rode the NLR/Clinton Library trolley and for the first time that I have been riding, except for Riverfest, it was standing room only. The trolley took on passengers at five of the LR stops and three of the stops in NLR. The driver gave some very interesting information about the history of the trolley system in LR. He said at one time there was 50 miles of track and 100 streetcars.

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Hello, I am an outsider from Australia where we call street cars trams. Out of pure curiosity, if your city is building a completely new light rail system then what is the reason for choosing 1920s

I agree an expansion down Main would be good but so would extending the end to the track south to 9th then west to Main and north to 2nd. The area east of l-30 is prime for redevelopment. Lost Forty h

As big of an advocate of urban planning concepts and smart growth as I am, I just don't get the huge outcry against this...as if this is the first time any highway department has proposed increasing c

I took a ride on the trolley this afternoon and the A/C was very nice considering that it was 100 +. I rode the NLR/Clinton Library trolley and for the first time that I have been riding, except for Riverfest, it was standing room only. The trolley took on passengers at five of the LR stops and three of the stops in NLR. The driver gave some very interesting information about the history of the trolley system in LR. He said at one time there was 50 miles of track and 100 streetcars.

Glad to hear that many people were on the trolley. River Rail gets a lot of flack because some don't see the benefit. As more people move to downtown LR and NLR and as the area attracts more tourist, River Rail will play a significant role in moving those people around.

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Glad to hear that many people were on the trolley. River Rail gets a lot of flack because some don't see the benefit. As more people move to downtown LR and NLR and as the area attracts more tourist, River Rail will play a significant role in moving those people around.

The river rail does help downtown a lot but not by moving people around. It's just a good anchor for business development. I really don't see it becoming an alternative transportation option until they expand some to the surrounding neighborhoods, the bus terminal or the airport. I saw on the CAT website, they have a pretty ambitious master plan which looks great but I imagine it will be quite a while till we see much of it developed.

http://www.cat.org/rrail/map_streetcar.pdf

It's ironic that, originally, developers built the trolley systems privately to connect cities like Little Rock, to the surrounding neighborhoods that were being built, so that they would bring more people to these areas. Now trolleys and mass transit are only placed in the densest areas because that is the only place they are seen to be able to survive. I know a lot of people want to see a line go down Main Street, but don't think it would be viable because there are no businesses there now. I think a better question would be what kind of effect would it have on the neighborhoods across 630, if it extended that far?

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It's ironic that, originally, developers built the trolley systems privately to connect cities like Little Rock, to the surrounding neighborhoods that were being built, so that they would bring more people to these areas. Now trolleys and mass transit are only placed in the densest areas because that is the only place they are seen to be able to survive. I know a lot of people want to see a line go down Main Street, but don't think it would be viable because there are no businesses there now. I think a better question would be what kind of effect would it have on the neighborhoods across 630, if it extended that far?

Interesting observation, that one. Hillcrest and the Heights were distant suburbs connected to downtown by a streetcar - the early 1900s version of sprawl.

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It's ironic that, originally, developers built the trolley systems privately to connect cities like Little Rock, to the surrounding neighborhoods that were being built, so that they would bring more people to these areas. Now trolleys and mass transit are only placed in the densest areas because that is the only place they are seen to be able to survive. I know a lot of people want to see a line go down Main Street, but don't think it would be viable because there are no businesses there now. I think a better question would be what kind of effect would it have on the neighborhoods across 630, if it extended that far?

I think extending the trolley down Main St to the QQ, or SOMA as some people apparently call it, would energize those neighborhoods, similar to the way it did Argenta. I don't know if we can agree that the cost of putting a trolley down there is worth the benefit, but I'm sure everyone agrees that it would truly help out an area that could use a hand.

By the way, has anyone lately walked around the area between 14 and 16 or so, east of Main St? (Not that I would recommend going out there today, effing 106 degrees). I was surprised at how much development is going on in that area.

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The Rivermarket area and South Main are our two big hubs of new development. South Main is always a nice surprise to me. Everyone always over looks it for the larger, more upscale targeted, Rivermarket. But South Main is very up and coming, and has been for a little while now.

As the Rivermarket area is filled up (I don't think there are any more properties to develop) new areas could become prime for a rebirth. It appears now that most of the new construction is moving towards the Rivermarket south area, where the new Moses Tucker condos are being built. It looks to be turning into a good residential area downtown. But I know there is a lot of wishing for the main street area to become a new entertainment district with the center theater and the REP. Main Street is the connection between the western edge of the Rivermarket district and the SOMA area. It seems logical that a trolley line between the two could work, moving people between these areas, and then over time would really ignite Main Street.

I seem to be getting on a rant here...

From what I can tell, anyone and everyone who wants something to happen along Main Street seem to be waiting on each other to make the first move. It looks as if everyone looks towards Stephens, who owns a lot of the property and who would like to do something along Main Street, to fix everything. But why should he? It's a huge risk! I wouldn't. Look at the Lafayette Building, which was privately done, and now doesn't seem to being kicking up as much dust as originally though it would. However if the city got involved and provided some sort of anchor or hub similar to what went on with the Rivermaket pavilion, I think developers would eagerly hop on board. The Rivermarket pavilion provided a permanent and built anchor for a needed and used function that guaranteed to be utilized and so other private developers began to move in around it. What if the city built a line between SOMA and the Rivermarket or what if the city helped build a huge new facility for the REP somewhere in the middle of Main Street or a couple nice pocket parks? Come on Stodola! We need the cities help!

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The Rivermarket area and South Main are our two big hubs of new development. South Main is always a nice surprise to me. Everyone always over looks it for the larger, more upscale targeted, Rivermarket. But South Main is very up and coming, and has been for a little while now.

As the Rivermarket area is filled up (I don't think there are any more properties to develop) new areas could become prime for a rebirth. It appears now that most of the new construction is moving towards the Rivermarket south area, where the new Moses Tucker condos are being built. It looks to be turning into a good residential area downtown. But I know there is a lot of wishing for the main street area to become a new entertainment district with the center theater and the REP. Main Street is the connection between the western edge of the Rivermarket district and the SOMA area. It seems logical that a trolley line between the two could work, moving people between these areas, and then over time would really ignite Main Street.

I seem to be getting on a rant here...

From what I can tell, anyone and everyone who wants something to happen along Main Street seem to be waiting on each other to make the first move. It looks as if everyone looks towards Stephens, who owns a lot of the property and who would like to do something along Main Street, to fix everything. But why should he? It's a huge risk! I wouldn't. Look at the Lafayette Building, which was privately done, and now doesn't seem to being kicking up as much dust as originally though it would. However if the city got involved and provided some sort of anchor or hub similar to what went on with the Rivermaket pavilion, I think developers would eagerly hop on board. The Rivermarket pavilion provided a permanent and built anchor for a needed and used function that guaranteed to be utilized and so other private developers began to move in around it. What if the city built a line between SOMA and the Rivermarket or what if the city helped build a huge new facility for the REP somewhere in the middle of Main Street or a couple nice pocket parks? Come on Stodola! We need the cities help!

I agree with your comments. I would add that the biggest failure/impediment that has held this back with the loss of the Reynold's grant to the REP a few years ago. They were a sure lock-in, but broke some of Reynold's rules which cost them full funding of the new facility. Incredibly disappointing.

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  • 1 month later...

Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but a consultant (don't know who) has been hired to look into the feasibility of running the trolley line to the airport. The total cost of the project is estimated at $20 million (which I think is low), and federal grants would cover 80%--leaving only a $4 million commitment from the city!!! Sounds like a winner to me. This would allow travelers to head straight to downtown hotels at a very reasonable price... and in style. The only problem I see would be the short stint along Bond from 14th to 6th street. Not the prettiest scenery if you ask me.

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Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but a consultant (don't know who) has been hired to look into the feasibility of running the trolley line to the airport. The total cost of the project is estimated at $20 million (which I think is low), and federal grants would cover 80%--leaving only a $4 million commitment from the city!!! Sounds like a winner to me. This would allow travelers to head straight to downtown hotels at a very reasonable price... and in style. The only problem I see would be the short stint along Bond from 14th to 6th street. Not the prettiest scenery if you ask me.

I think they should consider putting stops at Central Flying Service and the Aerospace Education Center.

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I think they should consider putting stops at Central Flying Service and the Aerospace Education Center.

Good suggestions. I would recommend that this be an "express" route as much as possible, at least as far as how rapid the cars travel. Downtown is slow since they share right-of-way with traffic and there are lots of pedestrians, etc. However, a point-to-point destination needs to be as direct and efficient as possible. As such, I'm not sure that it should really be a new line down a street, but rather use an existing rail line that would be unimpeded. I'm not sure if that is available or even possible though.

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I think they should consider putting stops at Central Flying Service and the Aerospace Education Center.

It would be nice if they could figure out a way to run the line, through or under the airport and connect it to the central flying service on the other side. Then they could continue it up the river and follow the bank into downtown. It will be interesting to see what kind of people mover they put in since a trolley wont work. Maybe this will be the beginning of a larger transit system that can serve a larger area in Little Rock

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Good suggestions. I would recommend that this be an "express" route as much as possible, at least as far as how rapid the cars travel. Downtown is slow since they share right-of-way with traffic and there are lots of pedestrians, etc. However, a point-to-point destination needs to be as direct and efficient as possible. As such, I'm not sure that it should really be a new line down a street, but rather use an existing rail line that would be unimpeded. I'm not sure if that is available or even possible though.

I agree with this completely.

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Metroplan will soon pick a firm to do a study on a fixed guideway to the airport. The object of the study is to determine the feasibility of a fixed guideway public transit line between downtown and the airport terminal. It will define the corridor utilizing existing railroad right-of-ways or a new location or a combination of both. This study should start in December.

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Metroplan will soon pick a firm to do a study on a fixed guideway to the airport. The object of the study is to determine the feasibility of a fixed guideway public transit line between downtown and the airport terminal. It will define the corridor utilizing existing railroad right-of-ways or a new location or a combination of both. This study should start in December.

There is an article in today's Democrat Gazette about this. A month after you posted this Skirby. You probably know who has won the bid and the route of the extension :)

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There is an article in today's Democrat Gazette about this. A month after you posted this Skirby. You probably know who has won the bid and the route of the extension :)

The article you're referring to has been reposted in full at Argenta News: http://www.argentanews.com/index.php?optio...6&Itemid=10

Saturday, October 27, 2007

LITTLE ROCK — A River Rail extension to Little Rock’s airport is moving forward as local governments look for a consultant to map out a route and determine a cost for branching out from downtown.

Three transportation consulting firms in the last week answered requests for proposals from Metroplan, central Arkansas’ regional planning agency, for a feasibility study about linking streetcar tracks in Little Rock’s and North Little Rock’s downtowns with Little Rock National Airport, Adams Field.

[...]

The extension could use current streetcars and continue onto the existing 3.4 miles of track, Wineland said. Streetcars can reach speeds of 40 miles an hour, but move slowly now because most track runs along busy downtown streets.

Those are some fast trolleys.

I personally like the idea a lot; it would be really useful for getting downtown. Once downtown, though, the trolleys wouldn't be all that helpful considering they go ridiculously slow through the river market.

Funny commentary by the Argenta News editor:

As a frequent flyer I have my doubts that this will work for typical business travelers. Will the trolley start running at 4:00 am so we can catch that first flight on American at 5:30? Will the trolley run at least every 15-20 mnutes? Business travelers and convention travelers have no patience for delays.
Edited by johnnydr87
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I would have to agree with the writer from the Argenta blog. I don't think the time has come for an extension to the airport. If a person comes in from the airport they would have to get off on Commerce St. to walk to the new Hampton or Courtyard. Or travel on down 2nd to Markham to get off across from the DoubleTree. Or continue down Markham to the Peabody Stop to walk two blocks to the Peabody or the Capital Hotel. They would have to carry their luggage to their hotel and if it was raining they would get wet before they got to any of the hotels. Also, the Peabody Stop is the only stop with any cover. I would rather see the RR continue down Commerce to Capitol. West down Capitol to Spring and then North to reconnect with the track at 2nd and Spring. This would only be around twelve blocks and would take in the River Cities Transit Center, parts of Main and the CBD. Also, work should be done to provide another track over the river. If track is ever provided for the CBD then service will have to be increased over the time schedule now used.

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I would have to agree with the writer from the Argenta blog. I don't think the time has come for an extension to the airport. If a person comes in from the airport they would have to get off on Commerce St. to walk to the new Hampton or Courtyard. Or travel on down 2nd to Markham to get off across from the DoubleTree. Or continue down Markham to the Peabody Stop to walk two blocks to the Peabody or the Capital Hotel. They would have to carry their luggage to their hotel and if it was raining they would get wet before they got to any of the hotels. Also, the Peabody Stop is the only stop with any cover. I would rather see the RR continue down Commerce to Capitol. West down Capitol to Spring and then North to reconnect with the track at 2nd and Spring. This would only be around twelve blocks and would take in the River Cities Transit Center, parts of Main and the CBD. Also, work should be done to provide another track over the river. If track is ever provided for the CBD then service will have to be increased over the time schedule now used.

I agree. I don't like the emphasis on NLR. Realistically the areas in NLR we need to be reaching are pretty much already included. I think extending down Main, a CBD loop and the airport loop, perhaps even eventually a State Capitol extension all are more important than adding more track north of the river.

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Doing some minor calculations here:

If there is a single dedicated trolley going to the airport and back, assuming it goes 40 miles per hour and the distance is 3 miles, it would only take 4 minutes each way. Add in 5 minutes waiting at each point (downtown and airport) means that's it's about a 10-15 minute wait between each ride to and fro the airport. Not bad.

However, seeing the discussion here, I guess I agree that it would be more practical to have the trolley move towards the capitol.

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I've been doing some thinking about the problems that the trolley faces, and have an idea.

It seems to be the fact that the trolley gets stuck behind traffic (especially on Clinton Ave in the River Market area) is a major detriment to its ability to run efficiently.

In Paris, and in many parts of Europe, major streets all have dedicated bus lanes, which only buses, taxis, and bikes are allowed to use. Would it make sense to make Clinton/ Markham one way from Cumberland/ La Harpe to where the trolley turns at Commerce St? In effect, the left lane would be the car lane, and the right lane could be for trolley/ pedestrian/ taxi/ bus service only.

2nd St (which runs parallel to Clinton Av) is already one way in the other direction, so it would add a little balance to the traffic flow in that sense.

Both sides of the street would still have parking, just all in one direction, and having cars turning fewer directions at the intersection of Rock and Clinton Ave would also make traffic run better.

Maybe I'm missing something, but this seems like a much easier solution than the one now, with serious traffic problems, sometimes a lack of pedestrian space, and a delayed trolley.

Thoughts?

Edited by abdintp
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I've been doing some thinking about the problems that the trolley faces, and have an idea.

It seems to be the fact that the trolley gets stuck behind traffic (especially on Clinton Ave in the River Market area) is a major detriment to its ability to run efficiently.

In Paris, and in many parts of Europe, major streets all have dedicated bus lanes, which only buses, taxis, and bikes are allowed to use. Would it make sense to make Clinton/ Markham one way from Cumberland/ La Harpe to where the trolley turns at Commerce St? In effect, the left lane would be the car lane, and the right lane could be for trolley/ pedestrian/ taxi/ bus service only.

2nd St (which runs parallel to Clinton Av) is already one way in the other direction, so it would add a little balance to the traffic flow in that sense.

Both sides of the street would still have parking, just all in one direction, and having cars turning fewer directions at the intersection of Rock and Clinton Ave would also make traffic run better.

Maybe I'm missing something, but this seems like a much easier solution than the one now, with serious traffic problems, sometimes a lack of pedestrian space, and a delayed trolley.

Thoughts?

A recent Demgaz article reported on the perception that one-way streets are unfriendly to pedestrians and ground floor retail because they are designed to move traffic quickly.

Is there a consensus that the speed of the trolley is a problem? I'm not hearing these complaints. The rides I have taken on the trolley have been for the novelty of it, so I may not be in the know.

Would two blocks of a one-way street be enough of a gain in efficiency to justify the inconvenience?

Edited by turboturtle
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A recent Demgaz article reported on the perception that one-way streets are unfriendly to pedestrians and ground floor retail because they are designed to move traffic quickly.

Is there a consensus that the speed of the trolley is a problem? I'm not hearing these complaints. The rides I have taken on the trolley have been for the novelty of it, so I may not be in the know.

Would two blocks of a one-way street be enough of a gain in efficiency to justify the inconvenience?

I have been reading a few complaints on the Argenta News blog of people wishing the trolley went faster/ didn't get stuck in traffic. Indeed (IMO), in order to make it an effecient system, the trolley does need to have a somewhat dedicated way.

Also, I don't know what that DemGaz article said, but this is what I can tell you about one-way streets. In the case of opening up 2-3 lane downtown streets which were formerly two-way traffic to one-way, this is indeed an excellent way to decrease pedenstrain friendliness, and kill the urban atmosphere. In fact, the making of one-way streets is one of the things that killed the old downtown in the first place, because it allowed people to zip home to the suburbs without gaining the benefits of sticking around downtown after work first. Think about the most pedestrian used streets in LR, and you'll think of Kavanaugh and other major thoroughfares which never converted to more than one lane in each direction. This is even more evident in Chicago, on roads like Clark Av, Lincoln Av, etc.

However, Clinton Ave is a totally different case. At least from my point of view, there's always considerable traffic on that road, especially when there's a trolley in front of you. I would agree completely that opening Clinton Ave to two lanes of one-way traffic would be the worst possible idea. What I was suggesting is one lane of one-way traffic, and one lane dedicated essentially to more economically helpful systems of transport. This wouldn't allow people to zip through, minimizing pedestrian appeal. It would add a space for pedestrians, help car traffic (maybe) move beyond being bumper-to-bumper all the time, and allow the trolley a somewhat dedicated right-of-way.

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http://www.arktimes.com/blogs/arkansasblog...speed_rail.aspx

Interesting link on the Ark Times website about a regional highspeed rail system with Texas, Oklahoma and us

That is very cool. I would ride it to Austin and Dallas over flying.

Has there ever been any studies on a possible rail to outlier cities such as Conway or Benton? I know there are major drawbacks to such a rail but this just made me wonder if something like that would ever be a possibility. With growing gas prices the demand for something like that may grow.

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That is very cool. I would ride it to Austin and Dallas over flying.

Has there ever been any studies on a possible rail to outlier cities such as Conway or Benton? I know there are major drawbacks to such a rail but this just made me wonder if something like that would ever be a possibility. With growing gas prices the demand for something like that may grow.

That would be wicked, and with a little coaxing of people could definitely work. I've always thought that if our nation did start investing in passenger trains again, Little Rock-Memphis would be a really logical route. It's really too short a distance for flying, IMO. There's already very straight track/ROW along this route, so it would be easy to adapt to high speed trains.

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