River Rail Streetcar
|River Rail Streetcar|
Two River Rail streetcars pause at the HAM stop in June 2005
|System||Central Arkansas Transit Authority|
|Locale||Little Rock, Arkansas|
|Termini||North Little Rock (north)
Presidential Library (south)
|Website||River Rail Electric Streetcar|
|Opening||November 1, 2004|
|Owner||Central Arkansas Transit Authority|
|Operator(s)||Central Arkansas Transit Authority|
|Rolling stock||5 cars|
|Line length||3.4 mi (5.5 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Electrification||600 V DC, overhead trolley wire|
The River Rail Streetcar is a heritage streetcar system operating in Little Rock and North Little Rock in the U.S. state of Arkansas. It has operated since November 1, 2004. As of February 17, 2007, the system is 3.4 miles (5.5 km) long after its first extension was put into service. River Rail Streetcar is operated by Central Arkansas Transit Authority.
By the 1890s, Little Rock, had begun to grow out into the countryside of Pulaski county, in large part, due to the construction of a street railway system. Similar to many other cities in the South after the Civil War, Little Rock’s lack of development attracted businessmen eager to take advantage of expected economic growth in real estate, banking, and other merchant ventures. Little Rock's first horsecar line (horse tramway) opened in 1876. Horsecars operated until 1895. Steam-powered streetcars operated between July 3, 1888, and 1889. The construction of street railways in the United States began to overlap with real estate and banking enterprises as the lines electrified in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Electric traction in Little Rock was introduced on December 23, 1891, after consolidation by a company formed to run the streetcar system exclusively. Eventually, that company was bought by Arkansas Power & Light. Electric streetcars operated until September 1, 1947, extending as far west as the city's Hillcrest and Stifft's Station neighborhoods.
The River Rail Streetcar opened on November 1, 2004. Phase I consisted of a single 2.5-mile (4.0 km) long line that connects two cities, Little Rock and North Little Rock, situated on opposite sides of the Arkansas River.
The River Rail Streetcar carried 200,000 passengers in its first year of operation.
In January 2006, construction began on Phase II, which was a 0.9-mile (1.4 km) extension to the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Heifer International headquarters. This section opened on February 16, 2007, with a ribbon cutting by Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, and North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays. The extension increased the length of the line by about 33%, making the total mileage 3.4 miles (5.5 km).
Additional extensions to the system are under discussion, the most ambitious of which is a 2.5-mile (4 km) extension to Little Rock National Airport. If the expansion is completed, the status of the line could take a role in some form of light rail line, instead of its current role as a heritage trolley. It, among others in Savannah and Tampa are considered a hybrid form of transport known as "rapid streetcar". The expansion of the River Rail Streetcar line, turning it into a more effective rail rapid transit line, would be the first example of such a system in the United States.
River Rail Streetcar initially used three replica vintage electric trolleys. Two more streetcars were added as a part of the new Phase II extension. The design of these cars is generally similar to Birney-type streetcars used in Little Rock until after World War II. The original number series for those cars was 400–407. The present cars continue that number series, albeit 60 years later, with the current cars being numbered 408–412. All of the cars in the present fleet were manufactured by the Gomaco Trolley Company.
The trolley stops at many downtown attractions, from the Clinton Library to the historic River Market. The stops include the Marriott Hotel, Heifer Intl., and the Historic Arkansas Museum. Stations continue into the rapidly rejuvenating area of North Little Rock known as Argenta. Stops there include access to the USS Razorback (SS-394) WW II submarine, trolley barn, Verizon Arena, and the Dickey-Stephens Park (home of the Arkansas Travelers).
The stops are indicated with 10-foot (3.05 m)-tall black signs and yellow sidewalk "bumps" curbside with the system map posted at each stop. Trolleys cannot be hailed between stops.
Both stops and cars can be sponsored for a donation.
- "River Rail System Map" (png). Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA). 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
- "River Rail - Central Arkansas Transit Authority". Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA). Retrieved 2013-08-18.
- Patty, William Jordan (2003). "The Great Civic Improvement: The Journey Towards Electric Traction in Little Rock". Pulaski County Historical Review 51 (1): 2–16.
- Lyndon Henry (February 2007). "Rapid Streetcar: Rescaling Design and Cost for More Affordable Light Rail Transit". Light Rail Now. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
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