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The Gotham Gazette
Brooklyn Waterfront Land Use and the Trolley Project
by Joshua S. Trauner

After decades of sputtering and stalling, the Brooklyn Bridge Park continues its roll. Plans have been presented and most of the community is on board. But one part of the plan may deserve some forward thinking.

As part of the system to transport people from the Borough Hall/Cadman Plaza area down to the waterfront parks, planners have called for a shuttle bus/jitney service making trips every ten minutes. While this kind of transportation is necessary, why add polluting, loud and dirty busses to an already traffic choked area? Bring back trolleys.

There's already a movement, based in Red Hook (not too far from downtown Brooklyn) which is running ground-level light rail or trolleys. A fixed trolley service connecting Borough Hall to the waterfront would be a great step in the transportation picture of the city and could serve as a model for similar ventures. Future expansion could run trolleys right down Columbia St. along the waterfront to Red Hook to connect to a possible ferry service for a reconstructed Governor's Island (which I advocated here a few months ago).

Light rail is the best of both worlds -- it is far cheaper than the subways, and pollutes far less than ground-level busses and vans. New Jersey will soon open a light-rail line in Jersey City/Hoboken, which will provide much needed transportation. I think it will be a big success. Dick Netzer, a professor of economics at NYU, has already advocated running light rail down Second Avenue instead of a subway (Read his proposal in the Gotham Gazette.) It might not happen in Manhattan, but in the land of the trolley-dodgers (Where have you gone, Walter O'Malley?), it may just be possible.

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