Can Streetcars Work for Red Hook? City Begins Study to Find Out

The New York City Department of Transportation announced today that the agency has started a five-month study to determine whether streetcars should return to Brooklyn on a route linking Red Hook to the downtown area.

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Would a new streetcar line for Red Hook use vintage-style cars or go for a more modern style?

The city first committed to the study this spring, using funds secured by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez back in 2005. Today’s announcement gives the study a timeline and signals the selection of a consultant, engineering firm URS, who’ll conduct it.

Streetcars are making comebacks in several American cities, with new lines getting boosts from the Obama DOT’s emphasis on livability. In New York, it’s still very early in the process — the beginning of the beginning. There are lots of unknowns, like where the line would run, how it would interact with existing B61 bus service, who would operate it, what sort of economic development initiatives would be paired with it, and, of course, where the money would come from to finance it.

When the study is over early next year, we should have a clearer picture when it comes to some of those questions. From DOT’s press release:

This initial analysis is the first step in determining if this mode, once a staple of New York City’s streets, is a viable option to connect the residents and businesses of the rapidly growing Red Hook neighborhood with Brooklyn’s broader transportation system and support economic development…

The analysis will take into account factors including potential costs, operations, routing, vehicle technology, construction issues and economic development effects. It will also examine comparable North American streetcar systems to determine what lessons can be learned from the experience of other urban areas.

Over the next five months, the city will also be holding a series of meetings with elected officials and community groups about the potential streetcar route, so stay tuned.

Streetsblog will be offline tomorrow for Rosh Hashanah and back publishing on Monday. Shanah Tovah everyone!