Time to think harder about streetcar routes, future

Last summer, I speculated about the shape of a potential streetcar network in this post.

Now Chatham Area Transit has moved pretty quickly ahead with a plan for two streetcar lines — one on MLK and one on Fahm. And CAT has worked out a funding plan too, using a tax allocation district (TAD).

Despite being a community columnist and being fairly well-versed in local goings-on, I was not aware that CAT’s plans had gotten so detailed so quickly.

The website catconnects.com is devoted to the streetcar project. There is a map of lines to be funded in the first phase and of future lines. And there’s a pithy description of the funding proposal.

I was glad to see last week in a piece by Eric Curl that Savannah City Council members are cautious about the proposal.

My basic concern is about the Fahm Street line (from River to Turner).

From my City Talk column today, More time needed for public discussion of Savannah streetcar plans:

One of CAT’s proposed lines would connect with the River Street tracks and continue south on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard to Gwinnett Street.

Another proposed line would continue west on River Street to Fahm Street and then travel south on Fahm to Turner Boulevard.

But does it make sense to have two lines that run parallel to each other just two blocks apart?

The Fahm line would run next to the new transit center, but the MLK line would be only a block away from the center.

I throw out a number of other ideas in the column. I suggest folks take a hard look at the map and then try to engage constructively in the debate.

For now, at least, it seems that there is pretty broad political support for Savannah to extend its streetcar network, which is now limited to the River Street line. The question right now is about how rather than whether, but the political winds could shift.