Louisville streetcar supporters kick off fundraising plan - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville streetcar supporters kick off fundraising plan

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Porter Stevens discusses his idea and the next steps for a feasibility study with others who attended his gathering Monday night. Porter Stevens discusses his idea and the next steps for a feasibility study with others who attended his gathering Monday night.
(Photo by Jay Galvin via Flickr) (Photo by Jay Galvin via Flickr)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – On Monday night, Porter Stevens posted up at the bar on the second floor of the Bluegrass Brewing Company restaurant on Main Street.

He was there on a mission, to mix and mingle with supporters of his plan to build a streetcar along Fourth Street, which he launched in 2014 on a website called “An Old Way Forward.” 

His goal now is to begin organizing a fundraising effort for a feasibility study.

“I think the biggest challenge that we’re having right now is the fact that up until now we have essentially really been an online group,” Stevens explained.

And that’s how Monday’s event started. He invited friends, colleagues and supporters to have drinks and talk about hitting the pavement in support of a new transit plan for Louisville.

“So now we’re at a point where we really need to transition to a group with a physical presence, with volunteers talking to neighborhood groups,” Stevens explained. “Because nothing is more important than face to face interaction.”

The 25-year-old urban planner proposed the idea for a streetcar running along Fourth Street from the Downtown to the University of Louisville Campus as part of his master’s degree in urban planning at U of L.

Streetcars aren’t that new to urban planners, as cities have mimicked (or at least discussed) Portland, Oregon’s successful development of a streetcar line between the downtown and the business district all over the country.

“Porter’s idea of a use-able piece of transit in a key part of town…it’s just smart,” Ken Wilson said.

Wilson, a retired teacher, said he showed up Monday night because he believes in Stevens’ plan.

“I remember when Fourth Street was the place to be,” Wilson said. “And it’s important that you have a variety of transportation choices.”

Stevens said he saw supporters trickle in and out of the bar throughout the evening, asking what they can do to help his plan.

“That’s partially why we decided to make the initial step of trying to raise the money for a feasibility study because that’s a great step around which to organize that transition,” Stevens said. “It’s something that people can grasp and get behind.”

Stevens said he is looking for people with energy, enthusiasm and the know-how to get the message out there.

According to Stevens, Cincinnati spent about $150,000 on a similar feasibility study for a streetcar line – so he says that’s his group’s jumping off point.

Stevens says he wants to find a local organization to help with the study and that he wants to get his group organized and raising money over the next two months.

Matt McGee, a fellow master’s student from U of L, said he’s believed in Stevens’ plan from the beginning.

“I’m just tired of seeing Louisville fall behind other cities,” McGee said. “A streetcar is very sexy to me. It attracts attention everywhere it’s built – you can see new development happening as soon as a line is being built. Louisville needs that development.”

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