The completion of this feasibility study marks the end of the first step in implementing a streetcar system in Huntington. At the same time, by finding that such a system is feasible, it marks the beginning of a series of steps which must be undertaken before the system begins revenue operation. The overall process is reviewed below, in order to provide a context within which the immediate next steps can be undertaken.

Funding Plan Development and Preliminary Engineering

The basic process is designed so as to permit review of the project at several key points. The first of these is on completion of the initial feasibility work. Assuming there is general consensus on the desirability of proceeding, the next step is to take the planning and preliminary system definition work of the feasibility study and refine it. In this stage, the various alignment options are detailed, and the specific traffic and parking mitigation measures will be defined. These options will be carefully and thoroughly reviewed with the community in order to reach a consensus. Other elements of the system will be similarly detailed and reviewed. Capital and operating cost estimates will be made to reflect the results of the consensus forming activities, and the engineering work performed. The resulting product, which will require about six months, will include the following specific deliverables:

  • Clear definition of the operational and physical characteristics of the system, including resolution of options left unresolved in the feasibility study phase and the establishment of design standards and criteria required by State and local jurisdictions.
  • The initial track locations and layout for the entire system, including an accurate survey of Fourth Avenue and such other survey and utility location work as may be required.
  • Final agreement on vehicle design and performance characteristics, and development of design specifications.
  • Final agreement on passenger stop locations and features to be included at each stop.
  • Architectural design of passenger loading areas, including lighting, signage, ADA accessibility and amenities.
  • Definition of urban design features such as the type of paving to be used around the rails, the design of support poles for the overhead (including street lighting and other joint uses, as appropriate), landscaping and art.
  • Preliminary facilities design, including drainage plans, electric propulsion system design, roadway and parking plans and design, civil site details, signage, geotechnical and environmental analysis as needed, traffic engineering plans, construction signage and sequencing, utilities coordination plans, grading plans, maintenance facility plans and architectural design, and other similar work as required.
  • Updated and refined capital and operating cost estimates.

While the above work is underway, a parallel effort will develop the capital and operating funding methods to be used for implementation and operation. This work will require careful coordination and communication with Federal, State and local officials as well as wide community involvement. If successful, the work will result in a funding plan which represents agreement in Huntington, and which Council can approve and aggressively pursue.

At the completion of this phase, the community will have reached a significant review milestone. Huntington can elect to proceed with the project, or can decide to stop further work.

Funding Approval

If Huntington reaffirms its decision to implement the streetcar, the next step is to achieve agreement among the parties who will provide funding. Because the exact make-up of the funding plan is not known at this time, it is difficult to predict the time required. However, accepting that Federal capital funds will likely be a key part of the plan, it is probable that obtaining this element of the capital funding will require the greatest amount of work.

The process for obtaining Federal funding is lengthy but straightforward. The West Virginia Department of Highways and the TTA can provide information on grant application procedures, as can the Federal Transit Administration Regional Office in Kansas City. The Members of the West Virginia Congressional Delegation should be briefed by HETA to be of assistance and support. In working to obtain Federal transit capital funding, it is important to work within the schedule of the annual appropriations cycle. Here again, assistance from the Congressional Delegation staffs can be of help.

Final Design

Once the project has been approved at the local, State and Federal level, it moves into the Final Design phase. This work finalizes all design work and results in comprehensive packages for use in procurement, award and construction. These include:

  • Final plans and drawings in hard copy and electronic format.
  • Construction specifications for use by the contractor.
  • Specifications and bidding documents for vehicles, substations, and other purchased items.
  • Final construction drawings sealed by a registered professional engineer.
  • Final, detailed construction cost estimates.
  • Detailed construction activity schedule.

Once this work has been completed, and with funding arranged, the project can proceed into the construction phase. The engineering activities will continue, but will address issues of bidding and procurement, including assistance with the entire bid and award process.


Construction can begin once bids are awarded. Because of the nature of the area through which the system will be built, it is very important that project management and the contractors work closely with residents, merchants and others affected to assure minimum business disruptions occur during construction. Other projects of a similar nature have created Advisory Committees of affected individuals and firms to accomplish this, and such an organization is recommended.


Once the system has been constructed, and prior to actual revenue operation, it is extremely important that it be thoroughly tested and "wrung out". During this period vehicles and other elements would be "run in"; operators trained, maintenance workers trained, and actual simulated operations undertaken. This careful preparation will minimize opening day difficulties.

Potential Implementation Schedule

An exact schedule for the implementation of the Huntington streetcar cannot be determined this early in the process. However, the following is a guideline of key events. This guide is a very ambitious schedule, and will require a high degree of community involvement; prompt resolution of issues; timely decision-making; and close work with State and Federal agencies. Needless to say, it will require a great deal of committed work from all involved.

September, 2003
Approve feasibility study, begin Early Action Steps (see below)

December 2003,
Begin Preliminary Engineering.

March, 2004
Complete Preliminary Engineering
Adopt final system plans

June 2004
Begin construction

May 2005
Begin startup activities

June 2005
Begin revenue operation

Early Action Steps

With the submittal of this report, the project moves from feasibility to implementation. There are three immediate action steps which HETA must undertake in order to move ahead:

  • Obtain community concurrence to proceed to preliminary engineering
    This concurrence must be obtained not only from the Huntington community, including governmental, business and other key decision-makers; but should also be obtained from the Tri-State Transit Authority and key State and Federal agencies and individuals. A key element of this task is to provide complete and timely briefings, and to arrange meetings to fully inform those agencies and individuals who will play a role in designing, building and funding the system.
  • Obtain funding for preliminary engineering
    It is estimated that engineering and related technical services prior to construction will cost about $300,000. In order to begin the preliminary engineering work, HETA should move aggressively to obtain these funds as quickly as possible.
  • Establish process to obtain community design consensus

As has been pointed out, there are several key design issues which impact the Historic District in a significant way. It is important that HETA maintain the good faith efforts which have characterized its activities thus far by taking early steps to provide a fair, open and equitable process by which affected members of the community can work together to reach a consensus on the optimum resolution of these issues.


The restoration of an electric streetcar line to Huntington is feasible. The fruition of a working system will take a lot of creative energy and cooperation amongst the various components. It can provide a slice of nostalgia with practical transportation. It is HETA's opinion that this project is feasible and should merit serious attention to those people interested in seeing Huntington's downtown returned to a place where people come together to build a sustainable community.

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