While coaches Jim and John Harbaugh are putting the final touches on their game plans for this Sunday's Super Bowl, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority has just completed a game-changer of their own: the Loyola Avenue - Union Passenger Terminal Streetcar line. The new line opened today and features a stop at Loyola and Poydras, which will deliver football fans and other riders just around the corner from the Superdome.
The Loyola Streetcar really demonstrates the Obama Administration's commitment to creating jobs, improving mobility, increasing economic development, and boosting sustainability.
From the moment he took office, President Obama worked tirelessly to get the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) passed by Congress. One of the signature features of the Recovery Act for DOT was the TIGER program--Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery. And one of the organizations that received funding in our first round of TIGER grants was the New Orleans RTA for construction of the Loyola Streetcar.
And since then, we have faithfully kept readers informed of the new line's progress from grant agreement to groundbreaking. So I was particularly happy to be in New Orleans today with Congressman Cedric Richmond, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, and others to celebrate the Loyola Streetcar's grand opening.
And make no mistake--that streetcar is indeed a valuable addition to the Crescent City.
The new line has four new stations and travels through the city’s business district providing good access to energy, government, healthcare and financial sector offices and jobs. It connects directly with Amtrak and intercity bus service at the Union Passenger Terminal, as well as streetcar service on Canal Street. And planned weekend service will extend right to the city's famous French Market. All of that adds up to better and more sustainable mobility for everyone moving about downtown New Orleans.
It also means new economic development. The private sector has contributed the majority of the nearly $2.7 billion invested in building and renovating properties along or near the streetcar corridor. This includes a $185 million mixed-use development in the emerging South Market District along the Loyola Streetcar route.
As Administrator Rogoff said, "Bringing more transit choices to New Orleans is essential to helping this city rebuild neighborhoods and thrive in the years ahead."
In 2011, the New Orleans RTA received a $400,000 workforce development grant from FTA to establish a new streetcar maintenance training program specifically for disadvantaged workers. This March, that program, run in conjunction with nearby Delgado Community College, will graduate 14 students.
The streetcar has long been a part of New Orleans' history, and we at DOT are proud to partner with the RTA and with other cities in the next chapter of this enduring tradition.
Whichever team proves victorious at the Superdome this weekend, the City of New Orleans, its residents, and the millions of visitors who travel to the Big Easy each year are already the big winners.