Task force discusses electric rail line connecting Mishawaka, South Bend, Notre Dame

Published: May. 13, 2021 at 5:03 PM EDT|Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 5:30 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A group in South Bend is advocating to bring back a way to travel through town that first got its start in the 1880s.

16 News Now tells us why The RiverRail Task Force says an electric streetcar will add much more to this community than just public transportation.

The idea is that a single electric rail line will connect Mishawaka, South Bend, and Notre Dame’s campus.

Members of the task force say this will not only help a lot of people get to where they need to go, but also strengthen the communities around The RiverRail.

The project is only in the conceptual phase, but task force members say it will follow existing roadways like Mishawaka Ave. and run alongside traffic.

“So yes they’re transportation and they provide another form of transit, but maybe even more profoundly they help economic development along the routes where they are,” said task force member and Serra Terra LLC principal Jan Cervelli.

Cervelli says that economic development can come in the form of new businesses, reinvestment in existing spaces, and improved property values.

These streetcars might not be what you expect, being electric, ADA compliant, and with a modern look.

“The beautiful thing is that it’s electric. It’s not contributing to the carbon footprint of the region. In fact, it’s going to reduce the need to have a car,” said task force member and Big Idea Company president.

One task force member said The RiverRail could remove barriers for people who don’t already own a car, by providing reliable transportation through the heart of St. Joseph County.

“This is not necessarily in competition with the existing bus system. It is one that complements that. This being on a permanent rail would have it’s own defined uses which will be relatable to that economic development that happens along that transit,” said task force member and Lehman&Lehman CEO, Chuck Lehman.

The next step is funding a feasibility study to determine if the idea is possible.

The task force says they’re seeking federal and state transportation dollars to get this done.

Learn more about The RiverRail by visiting their website.

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