Administration, 2013b; Metro St. Louis, 2011). Cost effectiveness was further deemphasized
when the DOT removed the requirement that New Starts projects rate a “medium” or higher on
cost effectiveness in January 2010 (Freemark, 2009). Appendix B gives a graphical overview of current New Starts decision criteria.
The third initiative was the announcement in December 2009 that the FTA woulddisburse
$130 million in funds for the Urban Circulator program for “
systems such as streetcarsand rubber-tire trolley lines [that] provide a transportation option that connects urbandestinations and foster the redevelopment of urban spaces into walkable mixed use, high
(Federal Transit Administration, n.d.). Although Urban Circulator fundswere part of the New Starts and Small Starts program, each grant was limited to $25 million,and was evaluated based on its potential to enhance quality of life through improving
transportation access and choice (“livability”), environmental sust
ainability, its potential tofoster redevelopment in adjacent parcels, and the extent to which it leverages public-privatepartnerships (Federal Transit Administration, n.d.).The combination of the influx of funding, along with the relaxation of funding criteriawhich had previously excluded streetcar projects from consideration due to their low cost-effectiveness ratings, created a funding environment favorable to cities interested in buildingtheir own streetcar lines. While from 2005-2009, no streetcar projects were funded with NewStarts funds (Freemark, 2009), from 2010-2012, the DOT provided almost $350 million infunding for 11 streetcar and urban circulator projects across the country (LaHood, 2012).
The Streetcar Comes (Back) to St. Louis
In the city of St. Louis, two streetcar projects are underway. The first, known as the LoopTrolley, represents a collaborative effort between the City of St. Louis, adjacent inner-ringsuburb University City, the non-profit Citizens for Modern Transit, and developer Joe Edwards(Citizens for Modern Transit, n.d.). The Loop refers to Delmar, a street close to WashingtonUniversity that attracts students, tourists, and residents to restaurants and retailers that onceserved as a terminal loop for one of St.
Louis’ many 20
century streetcars. The primarypurpose of the project is to revitalize and cultivate development on Delmar, making an easternextension of the Loop district possible (Citizens for Modern Transit, n.d.).The idea of building a streetcar in the Loop to attract development was introduced forthe first time in 1997, and a feasibility study was conducted in 2000. In 2007, the City of St.Louis and University City established the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District(TDD), and in 2010, a federal grant was awarded for the design of the project. In 2011, anenvironmental assessment (EA) concluded that there was no significant impact expected fromthe project. The project received final approval in 2012 and was awarded a $25 million grantunder the Urban Circulator Program (Citizens for Modern Transit, n.d.). The 2.2 mile LoopTrolley system could be operational by summer 2014 (Rottermund, 2013).Meanwhile, six miles east of the Loop, The Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, a non-profit composed of representatives of downtown businesses, the City of St. Louis, WashingtonUniversity, and Citizens for Modern Transit recently released a feasibility study for a second,