An Electric Trolley In Downtown Spokane? - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

An Electric Trolley In Downtown Spokane?

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STA hopes an electric trolley would provide service along what they call a Central City Line. STA hopes an electric trolley would provide service along what they call a Central City Line.
SPOKANE, Wash. -
KHQ.COM - You know about Seattle's South Lake Union street car, and you've seen the iconic San Francisco trolleys. But did you know about the plan to bring a modern electric trolley to downtown Spokane?

Susan Meyer with Spokane Transit Authority says, "it's a way of moving more people in a really environmentally strong way because it is electrically charged."

They don't call it light-rail because in fact there are no rails set into the ground.

Meyer says it's a way to move people, powered by an overhead electric infrastructure. Basically a wire.

"It is going to look like a train. A sleek modern streetcar. They will be 60-feet long or so and be articulated meaning they have the bendy part in the middle." Meyer says. "In good weather, they'll wear wheel skirts so you won't be able to see the tires. It looks just like a streetcar."

STA hopes this would provide service along what they call a Central City Line. It's about 3 miles from the Browne's Addition neighborhood to Gonzaga University, traveling through downtown Spokane along 1st Avenue or possibly Sprague Avenue. In the early planning phases the completion date would be sometime in 2019.

KHQ showed people in the community the design plans provided by STA. Darin Talotti says, "I think its a great idea to do a trolley especially since that are a lot of people in this area that can just jump on the trolley and go to school." He is the owner of Pacific Avenue Pizza. He hopes it would increase business.

"I think it’s forward thinking," says student Jennifer Dixon. "Because we have this old town small town feel but we are starting to expand like Seattle and Portland."

But there are concerns and the biggest is cost. Right now the STA is estimating low-end costs at $36 million dollars.

"It’s a lot of money for something that already exists already and STA runs very efficiently," says Pamela Holand.

It's money the STA says would come from federal, state and possibly tax payer funds. $200,000 has already been spent on research. That doesn't include a possible extension to Spokane Community College.

Gonzaga Student Megan Lapke doesn't have a car and says she would use a trolley system if one existed today. "I think they need to focus on public transportation that is sustainable and efficient and I support that."

Another hurdle is the design. The trolley that STA envisions isn't built in the United States. Susan Meyer says there is a way around that issue. "That vehicle is made outside of the United States. We are working with North American manufacturers to develop a similar vehicle style, because it doesn't exist now."

STA is seeking federal money to fund the design engineering, but to have it made from scratch in the United States could prove costly. They will also be applying for federal funding, likely this spring, and state funding through a series of state funding grants.

Still many questions remain unanswered and STA is aware of the hiccups and they consider that part of the process.

"It is innovative and so it hasn't been done here. It hasn’t been done anywhere," Meyer says, "and people have questions which we expect."

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