The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) will "cross the goal line" on Loyola Avenue when the new streetcar line opens on Jan. 28.
Federal, state and local officials will gather for festivities at the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (NOUPT), at 11 a.m. and board streetcars for the inaugural ride at noon. The streetcars will roll down the newly-constructed tracks as they are greeted by toasts at key locations, including the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Holiday Inn Superdome.
Streetcar service will begin for the public at approximately 1 p.m. The Loyola Avenue Streetcar line will provide service from UPT down Loyola Avenue and onto Canal Street toward the Cemeteries/City Park and toward the Mississippi River/French Quarter.
The $45 million streetcar project is funded through a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) competitive grant, which funds innovative projects with significant economic and environmental benefits for the surrounding community and region. The funds were used to construct 1.6 miles of track and specialized turn-out tracks at the UPT and at Canal Street and five state-of-the-art, solar-powered transit shelters that include video kiosks. The project also includes relocation and replacement of underground utilities, road paving and striping and landscaping.
This project has spurred more than $2 billion in economic development projects in and around the corridor. These projects include the renovation of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, development of Champions’ Square, The Saratoga Lofts, a Rouse’s Supermarket, the renovation and re-opening of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, redevelopment of the Joy Theatre and remodeling at the Holiday Inn Superdome.
Construction on the South Market mixed-use development on O’Keefe Street is scheduled to begin in the spring.
The next streetcar project in New Orleans is the Rampart Street/St. Claude Expansion, which will serve the French Quarter and Marigny neighborhoods and connect to the new Loyola Streetcar line at Canal Street. The 1.8 mile line will terminate at Elysian Fields. The project is in the final design stage, and construction is expected to begin in mid-to-late 2013.