Monday, December 15, 2008

Will Lexington bring back streetcars?

The local scandal rag The Herald-Leader had an article today that has had the whole city thinking about streetcars. The writer even dredged up enough historical facts to display some sort of familiarity with the topic of a streetcar. He evoked the idea of a trundling rail-guided motor carriage, with bells clanging and people waiting at the stop. This stop ideally would be at a shaded residential corner where one could catch the next car downtown, or home from the store.
He spoke of times fondly remembered and suggested that they may come again, and soon.

There is , he informed us, a local group interested in streetcars. I know that there are many of us out there who are earnestly trying to get someone to listen and really get a streetcar system started again. But that is not of whom he was speaking. This group he is speaking of consists of some University presidents, city leaders, local developers and a smattering of transportation administrators or consultants. They have named themselves The Greater Lexington Automated Guideway Transit Policy Board and Task Force. And they have nothing to do with streetcars.

They have been meeting for almost a year (so much for our beliefs in the transparency of government planning) and have focused, so far, on the technology along the lines of the Miami people mover".
"Initially, the group is looking at a tram system that would run on or above streets, or both, and connect the UK campus with downtown. Later phases could connect Transylvania University and extend up the Newtown Pike corridor to include the new campus of Bluegrass Community and Technical College and UK's Coldstream campus."
The key words here are "above the streets". This is the same elevation of the dreaded skywalks/skybridges that have pulled the pedestrians from the sidewalks, the same idea that has caused an uproar when applied to CentrePointe. This even seem to fly in the face of the soon to begin implementation Streescape Plan. The making of streets for people.

This quote also alludes to this being the first phase "from UK to downtown". Is there any need to move faculty/students from campus to downtown that cannot be accomplished by walking. It can't be more than 1/2 a mile. Hardly worth the wait on a pod. But wait, there are the other institutes of higher learning, Transylvania and BCTC, and the need to connect with them not to mention the research campus at Coldstream.

Nowhere is the mention of the larger population of Greater Lexington. The people who would, if they chose to ride it, have to drive to some destination and park to ride around, come back and pick up the car and drive home. In this scenario there is no up-side to riding the tram, or skypod , or monorail, or whatever but certainly not a streetcar. The streetcar solution should be for the populace that will be at a disadvantage when, not if, gasoline become a limited product and the personal vehicle is a thing of the past.

What I see here is not the University of Kentucky becoming a "top 20" school, but academics playing with other schools' developments for their own enjoyment and not planning for the future of Lexington.

Below find the names of those who are not looking out for the streetcar from the shady residential corner.

1 comment:

Garrett said...

I'm guessing they want to implement something similar to what WVU has with their extended campus. See

It is actually only for the benefit of students, I believe. The comments about expansion to serve the rest of Lexington (and beyond) come from someone not involved in with the AGT.