Construction grounds streetcars for several weeks

Rides on the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line have come to a screeching halt for at least six weeks, according to the line's General Superintendent Rod Eaton.

All of the line's rails and ties will be removed and replaced and its entire right of way will be regraded as part of a $440,000 renovation project, he said.

"The schedule for the work is actually two months," Eaton said, "So it's possible that we won't reopen until Aug. 1. We're hopeful that [the construction company will] shave some time off of that schedule, and we may open towards the end of July."

Eaton said the timing of the construction disappoints him and the volunteers on the line, which features restored historic streetcars. However, they had little control over when the project, funded by federal grant monies, was carried out, he added.

It's best for all concerned that the rail be upgraded as soon as possible, Eaton said. "The rail that's there now was put down 30 years ago. It was used rail when it went down and over the 30 years of operation, the rail has literally worn out."

He said many of the wooden ties are rotted as well.

After construction is completed, the ride will be "noticeably smoother," which will mean less wear and tear on the historic streetcars.

He said the new rail would last approximately 50 years.

Eaton said the Como-Harriet streetcar station at 42nd & Queen might remain open, however. He said if the construction company doesn't block off the building during the renovation, streetcar volunteers would keep the station open weekdays 6:30-8 p.m. and weekends 12:30 p.m.-dusk.

"Our thinking is that it would be nice to have somebody there who can talk to people, answer questions if they stroll by, and if they still want to stop by and look at the exhibits in our station, they can."

He said renovation updates would be posted at www.trolleyride.org throughout the summer.