This is a serious proposition. Knoxville needs a trolley system and I think I know where it should go.
First let's Discuss some back story.
It's no secret that Knoxville used to be a trolley town. Anyone who has walked down by the 100 Block on Gay st. can see the old tracks lying piled up. The legacy of a bygone era when mass transportation meant something other than a bus.
But why a trolley you might ask. Why not just improve our bus system? It' much more flexible, right? Yes it is and that is part of it's problem. A trolley creates an inflexible and continuous bond between points A and B which is what is needed in this circumstance.
Knoxville has a wasted opportunity that it stares at everyday. The most high-density urban residential neighborhood is half a mile from the center of the city and yet there is a distinct disconnect. Not only is there a large group of people who live so close to downtown, but another large group that work in that area. Two large hospitals employ a great many people who could feed back and forth between the two areas.
Perhaps you're starting to see the picture. I think we need to install a fixed track trolley line between downtown running through Ft. Sanders.
It's not my opinion that Knoxville needs to develop an extensive trolley system to feed places like Bearden, Old North, Turkey Creek, or Cairns.
What we need is a track that runs east-west between Gay St. and Tyson Park along Clinch Ave. (I'm up for a detour along Summit Hill to the old city but that would be more expensive.)
Clinch provides a direct link cutting through both the financial and retail parts of downtown linking it up with the heart of Ft. Sanders residential and hospital districts. This gives us a way to bring together two communities separated by a horrible gulch, Henley st.
There's alot to discuss about this idea so I'll trow out some bullet points:
- Two trolleys running continually
- The distance from A to B is 1.5 miles
- Low or no fare, like the current "trolley" system
- Purchase refurbished historic trolley cars (cheaper than new)
- Pet friendly service (here's hoping)
Other cities are looking into fixed track trolley systems right now as well which is where I have gotten a lot of good information. Look into the Birmingham, AL proposed system. Here and Here. Cities like Charlotte, Portland, Little Rock, all have trolley systems, knoxville can too.
It's hard to get exact costs, but it looks quite "affordable". (Meaning in the millions apprx $4 Million a mile, but the fixed costs are a capital improvement and have a century long lifespan.)
I believe this would give Knoxville another character point unique to Tennessee and is a small enough scale project that it can be more easily justified than a drastic overhaul of our entire system.
It could be done in two years. Who's with me?