Diamond still rails for Brooklyn trolley route

The Brooklyn Paper
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A Flatbush man is taking another shot at realizing his vision of a Brooklyn teeming with trolleys once again.

Bob Diamond, a rail enthusiast who drove his own trolley along the Red Hook waterfront in the 1990s only to see his dreams dashed after the city cut off funding for a larger network of rails, has now proposed a new route that would, he says, bring investment and tourism from Downtown to Red Hook.

“Trolleys attract businesses and tourists, and the time to strike is now,” said Diamond, saying that there is cash for “green” transport systems from various economic stimulus streams.

The route would begin at Fulton and Adams streets, travel down Boerum Place and turn onto Atlantic Avenue towards Columbia Street. Upon reaching the Battery Tunnel on Columbia Street, the train would turn down Van Brunt Street and return on Richards Street.

Diamond said that his trolley would be a major step towards reconnecting Red Hook with the rest of Brooklyn.

“The trolley would bring people to the burgeoning commercial strip on Van Brunt Street, while also hitting the residential areas on Richards Street [on its way back Downtown],” said Diamond.

Ever the dreamer, Diamond even envisions the trolley using the long-abandoned Atlantic Avenue tunnel as it travels from Court Street to Hicks Street.

Some locals along the route hailed the idea.

“Let’s do it! It will be great for business and for people down here,” said Tommy Perez. “It would lift up the neighborho­od!”

The trolley would run on electricity along rails laid at about $13 million a mile, if the project is modeled after one in Portland, Oregon.

Other locals expressed concern that the trolley — which would occupy at least one lane of traffic — could cause more congestion on the already clogged roads around Downtown.

“It might be good, if it didn’t slow traffic down — it’s too congested here already,” said Marie Testaverde, who was walking her dog on Columbia Street. “We have enough [tourists] visiting because of Brooklyn Bridge Park.”

But before you buy a round-trip ticket on Diamond’s trolley, understand that this vision is not exactly on the fast track to success. Indeed, this is only the latest in a long line of trolley-related proposals made by Diamond since at least the 1990s.

Still, there is a glimmer of hope, as Mayor Bloomberg endorsed streetcars in Red Hook last year, and a spokesman for the Department of Transportation said the agency is about to commence a study assessing the possibility of the project — and even reached out to Diamond for a more detailed Red Hook-Downtown trolley proposal after inquiries from The Brooklyn Paper.

The Obama administration has also allocated $8 billion in federal stimulus money to rail projects — over $150 million of which is going to New York State — and Gov. Paterson unveiled his own statewide rail improvement plan in 2009.

But Diamond’s dream has long been hampered by accusations that he is so driven and single-minded that he is difficult to work with. Indeed, the failure of Diamond’s last attempt at a trolley system was due in part to infighting among members of his group of volunteers that had committed to the project.

But that was six years ago, and Diamond — older and undoubtedly wiser, given the countless hours he spends doing research — says that the economic benefits of a trolley in Red Hook are just one reason to bring “the dodgers” into the new millennium.

“There is a tremendous environmental benefit as well,” Diamond said.

Alas, the original Dodgers will remain in Los Angeles.

Updated 5:20 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Steve Nitwitt from Sheepshead Bay says:
Norm at Atlantic Yards Report is ready to write that Bruce Ratner's evil lair is in back of the wall. Only top shelf reporting from that guy.
Aug. 24, 2010, 12:17 am
Bklyn Bob from Kensington says:

The presence of the new streetcar on Columbia Street is also expected to improve the general flow of traffic. Patterned after the famous and highly successful San Francisco Upper Market Street "F" streetcar line and the Portland, Ore streetcar, Brooklyn's new streetcar would utilize mixed traffic operation with pedestrian boarding islands or sidewalk extensions where ever feasible. Only the latest and most approved methods of integrating the streetcar into the existing streetscape will be used.
Aug. 24, 2010, 5:10 pm
Sandy Campbell from Upper Westside says:
Nobody has actually said that PCCs will be used. When governments today refer to "streetcars" they're not using the term the same way a railfan would. By "streetcars" they probably mean something more akin to the Portland Streetcar rather than the Market Street "F" line. But who knows? Either approach would be welcome!
Sept. 28, 2010, 2:32 pm
MB from Queens says:
What a waste of money for this toy.
Oct. 2, 2010, 9:13 am
Bob Diamond from Kensington says:
NEWS FLASH April 20, 2011
CITY DOT Scuttles Streetcar Plan-AGAIN- First Time Was In 2003:

There are some major facts about streetcar projects that NYC DOT doesn't want you to know:

What this "massaged" report doesn't say, is that while it costs $41 per hour to run a streetcar, it costs NYCT $160 per hour to operate a bus. What the report doesn't tell you, is that according to URS's own experience in Portland, OR, it really costs $12 million per mile to build the streetcar line, not $26 million per mile as URS now claims. What DOT DID SAY in an email last Dec, is that URS and DOT project a 43% increase in Transit Demand in Red Hook. Another thing they don't want you to know, is a new streetcar costs about $800,000. DOT wants you to think its over $7 million per car...

Finally, the ultimate key fact that DOT doesn't want you to know, is that a 2 mile start up line could be built for under $33 million, with $25 million coming from a special FTA grant for new streetcar projects, called a "TIGER Grant".

Dont believe me though, read what the prestigious American Public Transit Association (APTA) has to say of the TRUE costs of a new streetcar line here:
April 21, 2011, 12:58 pm
Steve Nitwitt's conscience says:
Sorry about that. I just act like a jerk some of the time.
July 16, 2011, 6:47 am

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