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LRT in Memphis - Will MATA end up killing it before it ever takes off?

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I thought this deserved a separate thread, as is worthy of discussion, and threatened to send the other thread far, far off topic.

Click here for the original thread, if you would like to get a better idea of the context.

Light rail could help the airport area and downtown, as it would allow for quick, easy transit between them.

I know that in my experience, light rail makes it easier to make an impulse trip. No worries about weather, traffic or parking. Just walk outside and go.

Sadly, the inane routing MATA has selected will likely be the death knell for light rail in Memphis for the next few decades, and probably won't help all that much. Alternative 1 was so obviously good that it just couldn't have been approved. Alternative 2 won't do a damn to help the attitudes of Memphians who already think they are being asked to pay for another downtown trolley.

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I agree with everything you say, except that the best first line for LRT in Memphis imho would have been to run the Madison-Cooper-Young route all the way out to Collierville via Southern, UM, and Poplar.

Having a station, for example, at Highland and Southern would be great for students from east Shelby County or Midtown. Building nice stations along the Poplar Corridor, in Germantown, and Collierville--complete with the Starbucks type stuff--would entice suburbanites to use for their commute.

Once the middle class is hooked, the whole LRT concept will be supported.

I don't really think there's much of a reason to have the first line go to the airport by whatever route--Lamar or Cooper-Young.

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Sleepy has the right idea, it's already very easy to get to the airport from anywhere. Memphis does not have the traffic congestion to make that a reason. I've only lived here since the end of August, but I know that LRT down Lamar would doom the entire system before it even began. Overton Sq, Cooper-Young, the U of M, and on east would and hopefully will be highly successful, not to mention a stop at a redeveloped fairgrounds.

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While my gut reaction was in favor of the Madison-Cooper corridor, I think the Lamar corridor shows a good deal of promise and in its own way is probably even more forward thinking for the long term future of Memphis than the Madison line. If anything, the Lamar Corridor would likely spur more development than the Cooper route.

Where Pauline moves off from Madison, the next logical stop is probably around where Lamar and Pauline intersect. Placing the stop at this location would serve what was formerly the Lamar Terrace Housing Project. This area is being renovated somewhat along the lines of University Park near Lemonyne Owen, and should be a good place to live with a mix or working class, middle class, and residents on some level of public assistance.

If the stop were located on the other side of Midtown 240, it would serve the Annesdale-Snowden and Annesdale Park communities. In both of these places you can get a beautiful home at a great price. These are very community centered neighborhoods that could get a great shot in the arm with an LRT stop. Having the stop at this location would also benefit the students and teachers at Central High School, an optional school that draws from all over the city. If I were a parent or student living downtown, having the option of taking the train to Central, rather than driving 30 minutes to White Station, would be very appealing.

Perhaps the next logical stop is around McLean and Lamar. While not exactly Cooper and Young, this stop could nevertheless serve the Cooper Young community seeking to take the LRT to work downtown or to the airport area. It also ties in nicely with the Cooper Young CDC's work on Seattle. This stop would also serve the Glenview neighborhood, another lovely place that has some issues with blight, but could use a shot in the arm. Glenview Park is one of the prettier ones in the city. Cooper Young residents should be taking advantage of this resource. The LRT stop would provide a much needed link between these communities.

From this point on, the stops on the light rail line are likely the same as they would have been on the Madison Cooper cooridor.

Any questions related to crime and blight from this point on are moot insofar as they relate to a choice between the two cooridors.

The next stop could come right as Lamar meets Airways in the heart of Orange Mound. This is a fairly vibrant commercial area. A link on the LRT could bring even more money into the business there, but also provide a convenience to riders further up and down the line, linking them to the larger retailers like Walgreens and Kroger, but also supporter local entrepreneurship, which is at a high level in this area. LRT could also encourage people raised in the Orange Mound, Bethel Grove, and Magnolia communities to stay rooted in these neighborhood, rather than moving to the suburbs. This can only be a good thing for the future of these neighborhoods and Memphis. There are few places in Memphis with a better community feeling than Orange Mound on Friday nights when the Melrose Wildcats are playing. LRT would only serve to enhance that community spirit.

The next stop down should be situated to provide easy access to the Kellogg's plant and the various industries at the former defense depot. Just looking at a Google earth map, there seems to be a good bit of developable land in the Cherokee area to the east of Airways north of Airways middle school. Perhaps an Uptown style development, or something along the lines of United Housings work on James Road in Frayser would do well here. It's very convenient to the airport and nonconnah business cooridors. LRT would provide an even greater link to Downtown as well.

I'm not all that familiar with the area around the airport. Obviously, you would want to link to the airport itself, but also to companies like Fedex, Medtronic, and Smith and Nephew.

Granted, there are losers in choosing alternative two or alternative one. It would be great for the redevelopment of Overton Square to be conveniently connected to Cooper Young. I would imagine that someone living in Edgewood, Tucker-Jefferson, Idlewild, or Lenox would love to be able to cart back and forth between Cooper Young and Overton Square without a vehicle. There is nothing stopping a development of such a link in the future. There is a good sized residential population (though nowhere close to the residential population along cooridor two) along the Madison cooridor that could use a better link to Downtown and other areas of Midtown (though they can currently bike to Cleveland and hop the trolley). Midtown is on something of an upswing and the LRT would help that even more. Let's not forget though, that the citizens of Cooper Young did not want the line going through there.

While my gut reaction is in favor of Alternative 1, I think that is makes more sense for the ultimate health of the city to use alternative two. Those who detract the Lamar cooridor as being a dangerous ghetto are off base. There are more middle class areas along that route than people realize, as I hope I've shown. The area needs help in places to be sure. Coupled with a comprehensive anti-blight strategy for the areas served, as well as commitment to providing good security (including CPTED) for those in transit and off, LRT will provide that help.

All I would ask is that your enthusiasm for LRT in Memphis not be dampened by something that could be a great benefit to your neighbors.

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