What inspired you to create this project?
Edwards: Well, I originated [the trolley project] in 1997. The Loop was coming back then. It wasn’t as good as it is now, but it was coming back in the western part, this part, was pretty much getting stabilized. But skinker on to the east was still, like, no man’s land. You know, buildings burned down. So people got together and had a gathering of architects and residents and business people, and all that, and city officials, to just brainstorm about “oh, whatever can motivate people to invest and develop east of skinker on delmar?” and so I sat at this meeting for about an hour and a half, and people were like “let’s put banners on street poles, let’s put flower planters out”, which were all good ideas and they are important for an area as an embellishment. But nothing that would appeal to people to really invest in a new building or renovate an old building. And then it just hit me, that this area grew up around a street car system. So I just said “Oh! We should bring back the streetcar system!” I started calling it a trolley right from the beginning , because trolley sounds more innocent, historic, old, as far as “Meet me In St. Louis” with Judy Garland and all that.
Will the trolley affect the Clayton community?
Edwards: It’s very game changing for even people working in Clayton because people would then love to do it, they wouldn’t have to pay monthly parking financially it would be a benefit to everyone working in Clayton. It would free up parking, and even fumes. If you go about things in a sensible way, this makes sense, and I’d love to see this because then people would take the metro and then transfer to the trolley back and forth.
When will the project be finished?
Edwards: Open to the public in April, but for construction being done, about a month and a half from now, six to eight weeks from now, all the major construction and the safety training will start occurring. People will see one trolley without riders on it go up and down for testing in late October or early november. Instead of a bus spewing out fumes it could be a beautiful trolley with wooden seats and brass touches.
Do you think the trolley will impact businesses around the Loop?
Alter: Yes, I certainly knew it was going to be positive for the entire street. I think people will be excited for something vintage that comes back to life. Of course the Loop is called the Loop because of the trolley to begin with. So I think a lot of people will be excited to take the trolley back into the loop because of its history and connection.
Has the construction inconvenienced you and others?
Alter: It has been an inconvenience to me and a lot of other people on the street. They have been working on it for two years. The tracks in the road – it’s been a problem for merchants. I think for many people – kind of like the one step backwards, two steps forward approach – we have to understand that this is an investment in our future and that there will be some inconveniences to people.
What is the route?
Edwards: The trolley will be a 2.2 mile route that will go from the library in U City, east on delmar, and there will be two parallel lanes up until the old station midway through about where the street Des Peres, and then south on debolaber inside Forest Park.
Are the rumors true about the tracks being too small?
Edwards: No, somebody created a crazy fake blog that said something about that, and it’s just nuts. If you read it all the way through, it said that I was going to work out so that I could push the tracks apart, which of course is insane. Some people don’t like change and put out negative or whimsical thoughts about it, and people when they read the first paragraph believe it, and it went viral in St. Louis.