Public Hearing Gets Heated on Proposed Streetcars in St. Paul

Updated: 07/10/2014 7:31 AM By: Ellen McNamara

KSTP File Photo
KSTP File Photo

Residents had a chance this week to weigh in on proposed streetcars in St. Paul, and some blasted the city. The city council voted Wednesday 6-0, putting the city one step closer to reviving streetcars.

The vote means St. Paul will fund a detailed study of a potential streetcar line. If and when it's built, the line would link East and West Seventh Street between Arcade and Randolph Avenue.

The meeting gave many people their first chance to sound off. Some homeowners are worried their property taxes will just keep rising. Business owners in the area think it's a waste of money.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, you can't have 15 minutes and a $250 million expenditure and limit that discussion to 15 minutes without talking about the big picture," said Michael Schumann, who is against the plan.

The cost of the project is estimated around $250 million. The proposal has come under fire from some who think the project is not a smart investment, including longtime St. Paul City Council Member Dan Bostrom, who called the idea “obscene” back in December.

Many also spoke in favor of the plan and believe the streetcars will be used. They said a diverse public transit system is needed.

So far, the city has only studied the idea, and it is a long way from becoming reality. Engineering and environmental impact studies would also have to be done before the project could be approved.