Proposal gets trolley talk rolling

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An early view of Summerville shows Augusta's trolley, which ran up Walton Way.  File/Staff
File/Staff
An early view of Summerville shows Augusta's trolley, which ran up Walton Way.

An enthusiastic Downtown Development Authority could almost hear trolleys coming down the road Thursday after a pitch by a recent college graduate to bring the vehicles back downtown.

"I was hoping, if nothing else, it would get some wheels turning, some thoughts out there," said Ben Skinner, who spent three months planning a 4-mile trolley system snaking through Broad Street, the canal area and the medical district.

He graduated from Clemson University in December with a degree in landscape architecture. The trolley plan was his fall project.

Trolley systems aren't cheap. Mr. Skinner's proposal would cost about $175 million, or as little as $35 million with federal assistance.

The development authority voted Thursday to have one of its committees look at the idea.

Board member Paul King held up the latest issue of the Urban Land Institute's magazine, which proclaims streetcars are back in vogue.

"Bang for the buckwise, as far as capital investment in downtowns, nothing seems to have the return this has," Mr. King said. "I know it goes against some conventional wisdom out there."

Officials pointed to cities such as Portland, Ore.; Little Rock, Ark.; and Tampa, Fla., which have used light-rail systems to drum up urban revitalization efforts.

Tampa's trolley, whose route is based around historic sites, has been "huge" for that city, Mr. King said.

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.

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deborah30906
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deborah30906 02/15/08 - 07:47 am
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It sounds like a wonderful

It sounds like a wonderful idea. You could probably get the community to help in some way. Just don't let the Augusta Historical Preservation Society in on it. They manage to put a kink on any work being done in the downtown area.

The Knave
24
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The Knave 02/15/08 - 10:32 am
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It's too bad that Mr. King

It's too bad that Mr. King didn't mention/wasn't aware of one of the finest and most extensive trolley systems in the world -- that being in San Diego, CA. Regrettably, I can't imagine Augusta's backwater "leadership" ever adopting and implementing such a good idea.

deekster
24
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deekster 02/15/08 - 10:34 am
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Come to CC. We need a

Come to CC. We need a trolley from West Lake to "Evanstowne" and we have the moneeeeey.

johnsmith
9
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johnsmith 02/15/08 - 11:24 am
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deekster, I'm with you. And I

deekster, I'm with you. And I live in RC, and I'm STILL with you. Why put something else in the hands of the ARC commish??? They can't even get the trash picked up or the streets swept...

stevo
0
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stevo 02/15/08 - 12:11 pm
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Neighborhood transit, like a

Neighborhood transit, like a trolley, will NEVER come to Columbia County. The built environment is far too hostile for anything but a park-n-ride system. Transit requires reasonable density, road connectivity, and pedestrian access (the road connectivity being likely the most important). CC has none of those things. Trolleys don't run down cul-de-sacs, and no one wants to ride a trolley through the sea of parking lots that is CC...

read this
1
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read this 02/15/08 - 12:49 pm
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Good Lord people. Does

Good Lord people. Does anyone remember having to deal with the trolley tracks going down Broad Street? Novelty transportation is simply not appropriate for discussion. How can you be so adamant about cutting expenses and lowering taxes and still entertain such a wasteful idea? Crazy! Crazy as putting gondaliers on Ellis Street. Crazy! All of you are losing touch with reality. Why do you fall for these artificial life support silver bullet ideas? The trolley belonged to Georgia Power and worked as a public utility because there was no other way to get merchants from Summerville to Broad Street. There was no Surrey Center, nor Wal-Mart, nor Augusta Mall, nor Target Shopping Center. The choice of transportation was horse, buggy, walk, Model T, or trolley. Now if the city outlaws cars and rezones the county so that the only commerce is located downtown along with all of the banks, maybe it wouldn't be so crazy.

MartinezWest Augusta
2
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MartinezWest Augusta 02/15/08 - 02:27 pm
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This would be a wonderful

This would be a wonderful idea for downtown.

MartinezWest Augusta
2
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MartinezWest Augusta 02/15/08 - 02:40 pm
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Ever since deke has been the

Ever since deke has been the mayor augusta has been more progressive than its ever been.

coco rubio
53
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coco rubio 02/15/08 - 05:33 pm
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i don't think laying down

i don't think laying down tracks is the way to do it......i've mentioned before that a bus/trolley could be used to go up and down broad street.....from 5th street to 13th street.....and back again......people could get on the trolley at certain points on each block.......the public could park their cars anywhere downtown and pick up the trolley and go up and down broad street.......and having a police officer on board would increase their visibility...... the city of augusta had a few of these special bus/trolley vehicles but ended up selling them to savannah, who uses them throughout their historic districts.......this would be a great start for downtown augusta and wouldn't cost so much as laying down tracks as proposed.....

Told ya
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Told ya 02/15/08 - 07:40 pm
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Coco something like that

Coco something like that could be put in place this weekend just by having city buses run that route, but I would suggest going up reynolds to stay out of traffic easier on/off and closer to parking. How about between the mall and target areas too. If we could follow that up with some runs in columbia county in fact we could a have stop in front of Tommy Mercer's house.

coco rubio
53
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coco rubio 02/15/08 - 07:44 pm
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we already have regular bus

we already have regular bus routes......i'm talking about a unique trolley vehicle that would go up and down broad street......stopping at every block.....in time, this could expand out.

Ralph_Wiggum
0
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Ralph_Wiggum 02/16/08 - 05:09 am
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Well looks like the Monorail

Well looks like the Monorail idea is unpossible. Guess I will have to back the Trolley, anything beats driving, with gas prices like they are. geeeesh!!

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 02/16/08 - 08:26 am
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My grand daddy ran the

My grand daddy ran the Trolley that ran down Walton Way. He used to tell a story about it loosing the brakes comming down the hill near the Bon Air. He said that by the time that it got to the bottom that he was the only person left on it. I miss grand daddys stories that he used to tell me about his life in Augusta in the early 1900's.

Little Lamb
46053
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Little Lamb 02/16/08 - 03:19 pm
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People complain about the

People complain about the train tracks downtown, and here is a proposal to bring in more tracks!

read this
1
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read this 02/17/08 - 12:21 am
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Do you think a trolley will

Do you think a trolley will bring people to downtown? Why? Transportation solutions are used for transportation problems caused by too many people. That is not the problem downtown. Why, oh, why will no one make the appeal to locate the Judicial Center to Broad Street. Put $86 million into a brand new building on Broad St. and you will see the resurrection and rebirth that evolves because of need, not because it is novel. It is all so simple, yet gondaliers and trolley cars get the attention.

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
0
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/17/08 - 05:21 am
0
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I think we should focus our

I think we should focus our efforts on learning to beam from one place to another.

Little Lamb
46053
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Little Lamb 02/17/08 - 01:26 pm
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To Read This: You have a

To Read This: You have a valid point about a Broad Street courthouse versus a Walton Way courthouse, but only up to a point. Courthouses operate Mon-Fri from 9-5. Outside of that they're pretty dead buildings. The location has been chosen (political payoffs were involved), and you can bet that Walton Way it is. Walton Way is going to be getting a pretty good face lift in the coming years. You might want to invest there.

read this
1
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read this 02/17/08 - 07:41 pm
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The location was the lowest

The location was the lowest one ranked by the consultants. I do not know if Broad Street was even considered. But think about it. A Judicial Center provides the employment for hundreds of people by itself. Lawyers will locate to the buildings on Broad Street again. Office supply businesses will develop. Mens clothing stores and cleaners, shoe stores and jewelers.....why...??...because they would be NEEDED to supply a new demand that does not exist now. We have lost the department stores and banks, but by locating our institutions on Broad will run circles around crazy ideas like canals and trolleys.

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 02/18/08 - 12:33 pm
0
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Oh, thank you! Just what we

Oh, thank you! Just what we need! More ways to ruin the alignment on our cars and slow down traffic. We're trying to get rid of the ####7*! trains and you're wanting to add trolleys and their accessories to the frustrating, time-consuming, noisy and sometimes dangerous obstacle course already down there? When you can get manhole covers level with the roadway then I'll consider your other ideas. I drive right past the Civic Center everyday. It's extremely disconcerting to see a very large and heavy late model car fully engulfed in a sinkhole in the middle of the road a few feet from the train tracks right next to the Civic Center parking. We're lucky it wasn't a train in there! San Francisco's trolley service is shrinking to a token service for nostalgia's and tourist sake because it isn't paying for itself. Don't want it, don't need it. What next? Horse and buggies again?

Little Lamb
46053
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Little Lamb 02/18/08 - 02:15 pm
0
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I'm just saying, Read This,

I'm just saying, Read This, that Walton Way is the wave of the future. You will see some businesses open there, and that's just as good as Broad Street. You are dead on right about the silliness of the trolley and the Ellis Street Canal.

read this
1
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read this 02/18/08 - 02:29 pm
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Actually, I would be one of

Actually, I would be one of the first to benefit from this location of $86 million. It does not matter. This is the wrong place to put it.

alternatetrans
0
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alternatetrans 02/25/08 - 11:33 am
0
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Why not install something

Why not install something that costs far less , and wouldn't interfere with existing car traffic? You can install something like at http://www.alternatetransport.com for far less. In fact, you could install 14 miles of this system for the same price.

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