New Orleans Opens New Streetcar Line Just in Time for Super Bowl

New line extends service to French Quarter, Superdome and downtown.

New Orleans opened its latest streetcar line this week just in time to serve visitors attending Sunday's Super Bowl.

The new line 0.8-mile Loyola Avenue line extends west from Canal Street and connects the city's central business district, along with a train and bus station and the nearby Superdome, to the rest of the streetcar system.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, and Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood -- who recently announced his plans to step down -- were on hand to debut the line earlier this week.

Construction began on the line, which has four stops, in summer 2011. It was originally expected to open a year later.

Officials say the new line has helped prompt more than $2 billion in development and will be essential to their efforts at creating pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods.

"Bringing more transit choices to New Orleans is essential to helping this city rebuild neighborhoods and thrive in the years ahead," Rogoff said in a statement.

The street cars run from 5 am. to daily, at intervals of 13 minutes, 20 minutes, and 35 minutes depending on time of day.

The project was selected as a winner of the competitive TIGER grants program, part of the stimulus, and it received $45 million in federal funds in FY 2010. The total project cost $53 million, according to the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority.

Communications manager for the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute