Monday, June 14, 2010

New Streetcar Plan for Oakland - Cost $987

Since states and cities have less and less funds these days it would seem that to get things accomplished and cutting expenses would be at the top of the priority list. Anybody who has worker with any municipal body about a future project realizes that it can get studied to death and they pay a lot for those studies. Stanford University undergraduate Daniel Jacobson has started a new trend without even knowing it yet. Jacobson decided, with the help of a small grant, to design and do the feasibility work for a Oakland downtown Streetcar line. This seems like a great win win situation for everyone.

From the SF Chronicle:
The 20-year-old native of Point Richmond spent nine months of independent study producing a detailed and ingenious plan to revive Oakland's economy: build a 2.5-mile streetcar line that runs through the heart of the city, connecting Piedmont to Jack London Square. The plan would create up to 24,000 jobs, housing opportunities for an equal number of new residents and breathe life back into downtown Oakland.

Jacobson's plan is an impressive and comprehensive 140-page how-to manual on how to build, run, operate and finance a successful streetcar project in Oakland.

He lays out a route that would link two BART stations, the Oakland ferry, Amtrak and main AC Transit lines. He projects residential and commercial growth along the rail line, identifying 125 acres of underutilized land adjacent to the line. He provides job projections for the next 20 years. He also provides a road map for local, state and federal funding to pay for the $92 million price tag of the streetcar line.

Most students in urban planning, architecture, and design need to complete real world project in order to graduate. While some of this cross pollination has been happening (I remember working on a Staten Island project in graduate school), would it not behove cities to seek out programs and students to work on some real projects? The students get great experience and the city you get a clear vision and feasibility of the project. Seems like a great partnership in these budget cutting days. You can see the full study and plan here.

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