NEAR THE END OF THE RIDERLESS LINE: Detroit plans to sell its 9 trolleys
- I see our antique trolleys are again making headlines. The following article comes from yesterday's (10/31/03) Detroit Free Press.But before we go there...I personally still find it interesting that no approval from the City Council has come forth yet (that I know of) for the cars to be auctioned off, plus other ownership issues which I've been made privy to haven't been mentioned as well. On the other hand, based on recent DDOT decisions it probably doesn't really matter anyway what others think or feel. I guess we'll see what'll happen. This whole thing could get really interesting before all is said and done. I also understand that some work disassembling sections of former Mayor Young's erector set along Washington Blvd has already begun....so I guess it's on!....right here, right now!NEAR THE END OF THE RIDERLESS LINE: Detroit plans to sell its 9 trolleys
October 31, 2003
BY JOHN GALLAGHER
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER
The City of Detroit plans to sell its nine vintage trolley cars, but some preservationists are strongly opposed.
Often characterized as quaint but riderless, the nine trolleys, built between 1895 and 1925, were acquired in 1974. They ran between Grand Circus Park and Cobo Center along Washington Boulevard and then east to the Renaissance Center.
They were a reminder of the hundreds of streetcars that used to ply Detroit's byways until the system was shut down in the 1950s. The city's original cars were sold to Mexico City. The nine trolleys the city now owns were purchased in Europe in the '70s in an effort to liven up downtown.
About 800 people a day once rode the nine trolleys, but after the People Mover opened in 1987 ridership on the trolleys dropped to no more than 200 a day.
None of the cars is in service now. They are in storage in and around Detroit and at a repair facility in Seattle.
In a letter dated Oct. 15, Marisol Simon, deputy director of the Detroit Department of Transportation, told the head of a Seattle-based repair service that the city intended to sell the trolleys.
"It is now our decision to sell these treasures to entities that would enjoy their splendor and also to recoup some of the public's money," Simon wrote.
But the sentimental value of the cars, as well as the replacement cost should Detroit ever buy new ones, has some local leaders urging that the city keep them.
"I definitely think we should retain them," said Rainy Hamilton, a Detroit architect who is among planners working on the effort to redevelop the city's east riverfront. Hamilton suggested the trolleys could run along the riverfront or on a line that could be built on Belle Isle.
"I would not want to see us part with these. At least store them until we can find a better use. We can't keep giving away our history," he said.
John Stroh, head of the Detroit-based Stroh Companies, said that some kind of public transit line on the east riverfront could be important as the area redevelops and parking becomes scarce.
"Clearly it would be desirable to have some transportation links between downtown and Belle Isle," he said.
But even if the city keeps the trolleys, most of the tracks they run on and the overhead wires that power them will soon be gone, at least along Washington Boulevard. The city plans to start remaking a portion of Washington next month as a boulevard with a landscaped median, removing the tracks and a car barn that housed the trolleys.
(Above article from the 10/31/03 edition of the Detroit Free Press at: http://www.freep.com )
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