clicky for larger image
We're not all the way to this point yet, but it's the ultimate goal of rebuilding the St. Charles line--the terminal at S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne Avenues. This 1958 photo, from the collection of Mr. Irwin From, shows Perley A. Thomas streetcars 967 and 908 at the end of the line, ready to begin the inbound run, and 927 is approaching the terminal, concluding her outbound run.
When belt service on St. Charles and Tulane was discontinued, the St. Charles line took on its present configuration, which is point-to-loop. Streetcars start out here, at Carrollton and Claiborne and go down Carrollton to St. Charles. They turn at the "Riverbend" onto St. Charles and head down to Lee Circle. Further down from Lee Circle, St. Charles is one-way going outbound, so the streetcar goes around Robert Edward and then one block up Howard Avenue, turning right onto Carondelet. The line continues inbound to Canal on Carondelet, which is "Stop #1." From here, a new run begins, looping round one block on Canal St., turning onto St. Charles Avenue, running up St. Charles to Carrollton, then Carrollton back to Claiborne.
Yesterday was a red-letter day for NORTA and the St. Charles line. The hard work of Mr. Wil Mullet and his crews in the rail department, along with NORTA management's ability to re-hire a number of the streetcar operators displaced by the storm paid off. The St. Charles line has extended operations to the Riverbend district, so the line now runs the entire length of the city's most famous avenue.
That leaves just one section of the line left to complete, S. Carrollton Avenue to the terminal. The overhead wire is almost complete, but this segment won't go back operational until the spring. NORTA and Entergy are doing upgrades to the power substation at Willow and Dublin, next to Carrollton Station. Once those electrical upgrades are complete, the St. Charles, Riverfront, and Canal lines will once again be fully up and running.
This photo, from 1958, shows the old wooden light poles supporting the overhead wire for the streetcars. You can also see the trolley buses on the Tulane line on the street. After the storm, a trolley bus manufacturer offered to work with NORTA to replace some of the diesel buses with electric ones, but the proposal hasn't gone any further. I don't know what the circumstances are on that, though. My guess is that, like many other people working to bring New Orleans back, NORTA staff just haven't had the time to work on such things. Many city services, from transit to housing to the libraries, have lost employees because they were unable to return. In some cases, older folks took one look at the mess they came back to, became overwhelmed, and retired right then and there. That leaves those working to keep things running even more overwhelmed, to the point where ideas and suggestions that make sense to armchair quarterbacks in other parts of the country end up on the shelf for a while.
We at NOSRA and CanalStreetCar (dot com) would like to express our appreciation to the Commissioners, management, and staff of NORTA, and wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!