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The Interview: Robin Budish, community organizer for Baltimore Streetcar Campaign

Grass-roots group pushing for streetcar on Charles Street

February 04, 2012|By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun

Portland, Ore., definitely. It's state-of-the-art, world-class transportation, where the economic benefits are indisputable. There are great streetcars in Dallas, Tampa and Little Rock. There are 12 cities with streetcar projects under construction. [In general,] the economic piece of it, it has brought in $70 million per mile per year of new investment.

Can you use existing infrastructure?

No, unfortunately. The streetcar is going to require laying rails in the street, and these are going to be new.

Do you see this project becoming a reality in the next few years? What will it take to get the project built?

We absolutely believe this project can be a reality in the next few years. It's going to take the mayor to lend support to the projects. But equally as important, we need to work with her on a feasible funding plan. The project could be completed in 2.5 years. It can be done relatively quickly.

If the trolley is built and successful, do you envision an expansion of routes?

We absolutely look at it expanding to other routes, to several routes throughout the city. Charles Street would be a pilot program, and with its success other routes would be developed.

Are you hoping plans for a modern streetcar will evoke memories of Baltimore's early streetcar system? [The city's first streetcar system started with horse-drawn cars in 1859, converted to electric power in the late 1800s and expanded to 400 miles, extending to Curtis Bay, Ellicott City, Woodlawn, Reisterstown, Druid Hill, Towson, Overlea, Middle River and Sparrows Point. The last streetcar stopped service in 1963.]

It was a huge part of our history. We're looking to bring it more current.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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