77th Annual Meeting

STREETCAR REVITALIZATION IN AMERICAN CITIES

WHEREAS, communities throughout the United States are exploring the reintroduction of streetcars; and

WHEREAS, existing streetcar systems provide convincing evidence that, for a modest cost, they provide transportation choice, attract economic development, link jobs and housing, and create denser, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods; and

WHEREAS, appropriate assessment of the value provided by streetcar systems must encompass a calculation of the number of automobile trips not taken, the decrease in passenger vehicle miles traveled, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that result from the streetcar system; and

WHEREAS, SAFETEA-LU in 2005 created the Small Starts Program to provide federal funding to help communities develop streetcar projects but Small Starts was never properly implemented, causing streetcar projects around the nation to languish; and

WHEREAS, communities around the United States have expended time and resources to utilize the Small Starts program but the delay in authorizing grants under the Small Starts program has created a backlog of streetcar projects; and

WHEREAS, urban streetcar systems that are located primarily in an existing rail or vehicle right of way create negligible environmental impacts; and

WHEREAS, Congressman Earl Blumenauer has introduced HR2163 "The Fast Starts Act of 2009" and HR2164 "The Streetcar Revitalization Act of 2009"; and

WHEREAS, these legislative initiatives would accelerate the development of streetcar systems in American cities by providing more targeted funding for these projects, more explicit direction to the U.S. Department of Transportation and greater incorporation of economic and community development criteria into federal funding decisions,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors commends Rep. Blumenauer for his leadership in the development of streetcar legislation for American cities; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges that forthcoming surface transportation authorization legislation contain provisions designed to expand, streamline and accelerate federal streetcar investments, including that such legislation authorize the U.S. Department of Transportation to designate urban streetcars located primarily within existing rights-of-way as eligible for categorical exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act.