Transportation
7:14 pm
Fri August 26, 2011

Streetcars in the Strip?

The notion of streetcars in the Strip District may seem outdated or romantic in the 21st century, but it could become a reality in the near future.

The city of Pittsburgh is asking consultants to submit bids for a streetcar system in the Strip, to be situated between 10th and 40th Streets.

Pittsburgh's Principal Transportation Planner Patrick Roberts said whichever comprehensive plan the city adopts this November will also include other transportation changes for the market neighborhood, like pedestrian and bikeway improvements.

Roberts said the idea for streetcars came from the Allegheny Riverfront Vision, and the system could expand to other neighborhoods if the Strip District effort works out. He said it could be a fleet of "rubber tire" vehicles, or it could operate on a more traditional rail line.

"The first goal would be to figure out a route in which, if we introduced a streetcar (whatever that would look like), that it's not stuck in traffic," said Roberts. "Once we could figure out how to do something that's not stuck in traffic and still respect the neighborhood that we're trying to service, then we get into financing, and once we start looking at those options, that'll give us a good idea of what we can expect to see."

The city's transportation chief said after fatalities on Penn and Liberty Avenues, it's clear car traffic must be reduced in the Strip as well. To that end, Roberts said lane reductions may be introduced, and parking lots might be added to encourage more walking. He said some of the smaller projects could be started next spring.