|Planned opening||spring 2017|
|Owner||Loop Trolley Transportation Development District|
|Operator(s)||Loop Trolley Company|
|Line length||2.2 mi (3.5 km)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The Loop Trolley, also known as the Delmar Loop Trolley, is a 2.2-mile (3.5 km) heritage trolley line under construction that will serve the Delmar Loop district in St. Louis, Missouri and University City, Missouri. The line will have 10 stations and serve the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, Washington University in St. Louis, two MetroLink stations; Forest Park–DeBaliviere station and Delmar Loop station, University City City Hall, and all the Delmar Loop attractions. The system will use two replica-historic streetcars, and one ex-Melbourne streetcar from Seattle instead of earlier plans to use two Peter Witt-type streetcars that were acquired and placed on display to promote the project in the mid-2000s. A grant of $25 million in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding for the project was approved in July 2010, and additional funding was secured from other sources. Construction began in March 2015 and is projected for completion in late 2016, with service beginning in spring 2017, after testing and training.
St. Louis ran Peter Witt-type streetcars from 1927 to 1951. Later, PCC streetcars manufactured by the St. Louis Car Company plied the streets until ultimately being shut down in the Great American streetcar scandal. The Delmar Loop originally got its name from the streetcar turnaround which occupied two oblong blocks on the north side of Delmar east from Kingsland Avenue. The loop was used by the Olive-Delmar line. The Creve Coeur line coming south up Kingsland also terminated at the Loop, with the cars backing into it from Kingsland. The loop originally was located adjacent to the Delmar Gardens amusement park, a vestige of which are Eastgate and Westgate avenues, located at the east and west gates of the park. Another streetcar line, the Kirkwood-Ferguson line, traveled north and south a few blocks east of the Loop. And a private line to what is now University City Hall extended west down Delmar.
When the streetcars were replaced with buses the Loop retained its name. Years later, the idea of bringing back streetcars found a champion in Joe Edwards, the owner of Blueberry Hill, The Pageant, and a number of other Loop businesses. Edwards secured the purchase of two restored Peter Witt streetcars that once operated in Milan, Italy, and has led the initiative for a new line in conjunction with Citizens for Modern Transit.
The two Peter Witt cars were refurbished by the Gomaco Trolley Company in 2005 and placed on long-term display along the route—one on Delmar by Commerce Bank, and the other at the History Museum—which helped to publicize the then-only-proposed Loop Trolley line. Originally, it was planned that they would also be used for the service, if the project came to fruition, along with other cars that were expected to be acquired later. However, plans to use the two Peter Witt streetcars were dropped in 2015 after it was determined that it would be too expensive to renovate them and carry out the work needed to make them operational.
A grant of $25 million in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funding for the project was approved in July 2010, as part of the FTA's Urban Circulator Grant Program. Additional funding was obtained from other federal agencies and from St. Louis-area entities. The overall construction budget is $51 million.
Construction began in March 2015, and the last major construction was completed in November 2016. None of the streetcars being refurbished and modified for the line had been delivered by that time, but they were expected to arrive soon, after which testing would begin. The line is projected to open for service in spring 2017.
As of mid-2016, Loop Trolley service is planned to be provided a fleet of three used vintage or replica-vintage streetcars: two from Portland, Oregon, and one from Seattle, the latter having been acquired more recently than the others, around the end of 2015.
In fall 2015, when the project was early into its construction, the planned fleet had comprised only two streetcars: two Gomaco-built Brill-replica streetcars which until 2014 were used on the Portland Vintage Trolley service (in Portland, Oregon). Those two cars were designed to look like 1903 streetcars but were actually built in 1991 (car 511) and 1992 (car 512), and feature steel frames under their wooden bodies and more-modern propulsion equipment (including rebuilt 1940s trucks). They are being modified for wheelchair accessibility, to meet ADA regulations, with the installation of wheelchair lifts (one per side). Gomaco was hired to carry out those and other modifications, and the work began at Gomaco's Ida Grove, Iowa, plant in August 2015. Loop Trolley project officials had intended to include one of the two Peter Witt streetcars in the 2015 refurbishment contract, but found that the work would be cost-prohibitive, in part because of deterioration caused by weather exposure from their long period of outdoor display.
In January 2016, it was announced that the city of St. Louis had purchased three vintage trolleys from Seattle for use on the Loop Trolley line. They are three ex-Melbourne, Australia, W2-type cars that had been operated on Seattle's Waterfront Streetcar line until it shut down in 2005. Only one of the three is planned to be used on the Loop Trolley line when it opens next year, and for the foreseeable future, because the available funding was only enough to refurbish and modify one Seattle car. The necessary modifications include restoring doors on one side of the car, restoring the steps in all doors (Seattle's line used high-platform stations, so the steps in the doorways had been covered or removed), installing two wheelchair lifts, one on each side, and replacement of the car's trolley poles with a pantograph. The three cars were all moved from Seattle in early June 2016, cars 482 and 518 taken to St. Louis and car 512 taken to the Iowa plant of Gomaco, to be refurbished and modified. Gomaco was awarded a $676,750 contract for the work on Seattle car 512 in May 2016. As mentioned above, Gomaco is also rebuilding Loop Trolley's two ex-Portland trolley cars. Seattle cars 482 and 518 are now in indefinite storage, for possible future modification and use.
When the Loop Trolley line opens for service in 2017, the operational fleet is planned to include three cars: two ex-Portland Brill replica cars (Portland Nos. 511–512) and one ex-Seattle, ex-Melbourne car (No. 512). With two cars numbered 512, presumably at least one car will be renumbered, but their planned fleet numbers in St. Louis are not yet known.
The line will start at the Missouri History Museum and run north on DeBaliviere Avenue in St. Louis, past the Forest Park–DeBaliviere MetroLink station. It will then turn west on Delmar Boulevard to the Delmar Loop MetroLink station and cross the St. Louis City/County Boundary to University City to serve the Delmar Loop district. The western terminus will be located at the University City Library, on Delmar Blvd. west of Kingsland Avenue.
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