MATA exploring Madison trolley line extension to Overton Square
Consultants for the Memphis Area Transit Authority are exploring an extension of the Madison Avenue trolley line east of Cleveland Street to Overton Square and North Cooper Street.
It is one of seven Midtown routes the transit authority might change or enhance with a bus rapid transit concept that involves fewer stops, fewer turns off main thoroughfares and shorter travel times.
In the case of a “Fairgrounds via Madison” route, instead of buses, the consultants, Doug Moore from HDR Inc. and Geoff Slater of Nelson-Nygard, are suggesting using streetcars on a line running from Downtown that currently stops a few yards east of Cleveland.
“Pretty obviously that would be a streetcar route,” Moore told a group of 100 citizens at a July 16 public hearing hosted by Liveable Memphis.
But it wasn’t obvious to some in the audience at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.
The first question was how the transit system could realistically consider such an option when all existing trolley service stopped more than a year ago. It currently is being rebuilt to include a maintenance and operations foundation that barely existed before.
“It’s our intent to have trolleys back on Madison,” MATA deputy general manager Tom Fox told the group. “It is pretty tight and I think that is the next level of detail on Madison – figuring out if there’s enough room to accommodate travel lanes, parking, bike lanes and some type of transit.”
Nelson-Nygard did a 2011 study for MATA, which led to another study about specific bus rapid transit options for Midtown.