With the recent announcement that the Loop Trolley will receive a $25M funding grant, the long-planned 2-mile streetcar line deserves a closer look. If all goes well, what you see below will be reality in the near future. In the West Loop, only one real option for the alignment was considered (and is possible). The streetcar will run in traffic lanes in both directions, meaning there will be both eastbound and westbound tracks. The East Loop and DeBaliviere Avenue saw two options developed, one running in traffic lanes and one on a single track in the median or on a dedicated path adjacent to traffic.
Some choices now appear to have been made. As the streetcar approaches the Delmar Metrolink stop from the west, two tracks will merge into one located in the median. This alignment will continue until DeBaliviere Avenue where the streetcar and a multi-use recreational path will occupy what are currently the northbound lanes, east of the median. The existing median will disappear. As noted on the Gateway Streets blog, DeBaliviere's future is "green and narrow". DeBaliviere will be reduced from four traffic lanes to two. (full DeBaliviere alignment below)
As Gateway Streets noted, the existing traffic load shouldn't present any problem at all for a two-lane street. In fact, with the addition of proposed TOD, DeBaliviere could become one of the more dynamic, vibrant streets in the City. It's tempting to want to see our boulevards return to their once bustling lives, but DeBaliviere will be well served by a drastic street diet. The greenway is part of the St. Vincent Greenway plan by Great Rivers Greenway (full concept plan here – warning: large PDF).
Take a look at the alignment renderings and schematic plan below and let us know what you think.