Remarks on the St. Charles Streetcars - New Orleans, LA (As Prepared for Delivery by Secretary Mary Peters)


Remarks for James S. Simpson, Administrator, Federal Transit Administration

Good morning!  Thank you for that kind introduction.

It’s great to be here with Senators Landrieu and Vitter, Mayor Nagin and Chairman Burgos [“BURR-Ghose” NORTA]   to celebrate a major milestone in the Crescent City’s recovery.    

And on behalf of President Bush and Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, let me say, congratulations New Orleans!

Today we hail the arrival of the day the President spoke of, when “the streetcars will again rumble down St. Charles,   and the passionate soul of a great city will return.”    

A few minutes from now,   the streetcars’ familiar sounds will return to St. Charles Avenue for the first time since Katrina hit…   heralding to the world the resilience of this city. 

Credit for nursing the St. Charles Line back to health goes to the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, or NORTA, working with the local Breaux Brothers firm. 

Where shredded cable hung following the storm, today neat rows of overhead wires stand ready to power New Orleans on a streetcar we should call Revival toward a brighter and stronger future.

These are upgraded powerlines, and the three substations that will now serve the system are expected to provide greater flexibility and reliability to keep the streetcars operating.

The Department of Transportation is proud to have helped in the revitalization of this priceless piece of American culture by providing 9.2 million dollars to get power back to the St. Charles streetcars.

Before the storm, more than 3 million people a year rode these streetcars through the Garden District and the Central Business District, to the zoo, the universities, and, of course, the French Quarter.

Now,   thanks to the efforts of so many people here today, they are back in service.  And come Twelfth Night, the “Funny Forty Fellows” will once again lead their crew of revelers on the St. Charles streetcars around Lee Circle to usher in the Mardi Gras season.

The reopening of the St. Charles Line is just one of many steps in the ongoing recovery process.    

Since Katrina, the Department of Transportation has provided more than 1.2 billion dollars in airport and highway emergency relief funds to Louisiana.

Mile by mile, pole by pole, the St. Charles Line… like New Orleans itself… is coming back.    

Thank you for allowing me to be part of this very special day. Reconnecting this vintage green car to its cable not only restores energy to the St. Charles Line, but also signals the renaissance of this most vibrant and unique of American cities.