off the Main Street Bridge, preparing to enter the Little
the Historic River Market area, turning onto Commerce
scene at the River Market. The line runs until Midnight
with the Clinton Library extension. Little Rock loop at
of the Clinton Library extension parallels a Union Pacific
the Clinton Library terminal (Library visible in
Clinton Library and the railroad bridge over the Arkansas
River. The architecture picks up on the "Bridge to
the new century" theme.
Rock Island depot adjacent to the library has been
restored for use as the Clinton School of Public
North Little Rock from the Main Street Bridge- an 8
through North Little Rock. View from City Hall
new minor league ballpark in North Little Rock is just two
blocks from the trolley
in mixed traffic, North Little Rock. A new commercial
development is under construction in the background.
Smatlak photos, May 2007
Updates (scroll down for latest update):
Update 1/29/01: CAT has
received bids for developing a Streetcar Expansion Plan, which will
examine options and implementation details for the second phase of the
streetcar line, including the extension to the Clinton Presidential
9/10/01: CAT has added extensive new info on the River Rail
project to their website.
The updates include a route map, information on the Trolley Barn
(maintenance building), OCS, naming rights and vehicles.
9/21/01, Construction Progress: Bids for the $815,000 River
Rail streetcar maintenance facility were scheduled to be
advertised by the end of August following unanimous approval by
CAT on Aug. 21. The
barn will be built at Seventh and Main streets in North Little
Rock and is expected to be completed by next June 1.
Three other bid packages, including the traction power
system and the complex job of modifying the Main Street Bridge to
carry trolleys, will be advertised by January.
Meanwhile, the federal government has recently released two
grants for River Rail totaling nearly $6 million.
Work on the four replica vintage streetcars ordered from
Gomaco is proceeding and the first one should be finished in
December. River Rail
officials said Gomaco has agreed to store completed trolleys at
its plant for a $100 monthly insurance fee until the maintenance
facility is ready. CAT
and Entergy Corp., the local electric utility, are continuing
negotiations on moving the company’s underground lines.
The city is expected to ask that the work be done at
Entergy’s expense under terms of its franchise agreement.
Source: Rail Transit On-Line
2/7/02: A comprehensive
set of progress photos has been posted on the Gomaco Trolley
Company website, detailing construction of the three replica
trolley cars now under construction for Little Rock. Well worth a
5/7/02: The May 2002 edition of Rail Transit On Line
carried this news item: Continued delays in starting construction, along with higher design and
engineering costs, have contributed to a nearly $2.5 million increase in
the price tag of the 2.2-mile (3.5 km) River Rail streetcar project.
"The longer it takes, the more expensive it will be," Keith Jones,
executive director of the Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA),
told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The anticipated outlay for the
project, which will link the downtowns of Little Rock and North Little
Rock, now stands at $18.35 million, up from $12.3 million in January of
last year. Part of the jump has been attributed to higher costs for
utility relocation and the trolley barn. Jones said the new figure is
unofficial and at the upper end of consultant estimates. He said there
is enough money on hand or promised from local and federal sources to
pay for the line, which transportation planners see as the first step in
a future regional LRT system. However, federal funds won't be released
and construction contracts awarded until CATA and the Arkansas Highway
and Transportation Department complete negotiations for trolleys to use
the Main Street Bridge over the Arkansas River. A draft proposal has been hammered out but a final agreement has
yet to be reached. Revenue service is now
slated for early 2004. Already being planned is a 0.8-mile (1.3 km)
second phase costing $7.5 million to the proposed Bill Clinton presidential library in Little Rock.
Source- Rail Transit On Line, May 2002
6/1/02: Main St. Bridge Agreement signed: The CATA website
carries an announcement that CATA and the Arkansas Highway
& Transportation Department (AHTD) executed an agreement providing for the long term use of the Main Street
Bridge on May 20. This clears the way for the
project to proceed to the construction phase.
The Trolley Barn bid package will be available on May 28 and bids will be opened on July 1, 2002. Bid packages for the bridge modification, two miles of track, and overhead power will follow this summer.
Source: CATA web site
2/14/03: First Replica Car Tested.
The first of three replica heritage streetcars for the
River Rail line was tested on Dec. 11 and 12 in Mount Pleasant,
air-conditioned, lift-equipped trolleys are being supplied by
Gomaco of Ida Grove,
Iowa, and are based on the double-truck Birney cars which operated
in the Little Rock area up to 1947,
the last of which was numbered 407.
The new series starts with No. 408, which will be the first
car delivered to the Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA).
In addition to Gomaco engineers, project consultant Jim
Graebner of Lomarado Associates and Paul Pool, CATA's Project
Manager, monitored the tests.
Also on hand to observe were CATA's Director of
Transportation Murray Gillerson, Maintenance Supervisor Tom
Johnson and David Lumbert of the Arkansas Highway and
Transportation Department. The
initial runs were considered very successful and only minor
changes and modifications will be necessary.
The car will be shipped to the North Little Rock
maintenance facility upon its completion, scheduled for late
service on the 2.2-mi. (3.5 km) line connecting the downtowns of Little
Rock and North Little Rock
should begin in mid-2004. Source:
Rail Transit On-Line
5/30/03: Construction Progress
2003 edition of Rail Transit On Line
carried this news item: The Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA) Board of Directors on Apr. 17 finally authorized a $10.98-million contract with Mobley Contractors for construction of the River Rail streetcar's track and overhead power system. The pact was delayed nearly two months while the Little Rock Board of Directors (city council) delayed approving an additional $98,641 to make up a budget shortfall after Mobley's bid exceeded estimates by $1.18 million. North Little Rock and Pulaski County had previously increased their contributions to the local share of the project, with the federal government providing the remainder. But Little Rock officials said they needed answers concerning capital costs and future expenses, including operating outlays. CATA expects to issue a notice to proceed around June 1, with actual work starting about 60 days later. Operation is tentatively scheduled for October 2004.
Supporters of the $19.5-million, 2.1-mi. (3.37 km) project reassured the board of directors that the replica vintage streetcars will bring 100,000 to 300,000 more tourists to the region and believe the line could be a precursor to a light rail system. A second phase costing $7.5 million would extend River Rail to the Bill Clinton presidential library, due to open in November 2004.
Source- Rail Transit Online, May 2003
addition, work on the line's new maintenance facility is nearing
completion, as well as the trackbed work on the Main Street
bridge. Some photos
are available on CAT's website. The website also reports that
track construction work begins this week on the Maple Street section in North Little Rock.
7/10/03- The Gomaco
website has been updated with a nice set of pictures of Little
Rock's new cars. One has been delivered to Little Rock, with the
other two on hold. Interestingly, these two cars may soon be
heading for Charlotte, North Carolina
on a one-year lease. Sources- various including The Charlotte
11/3/03- Construction continues to progress. A nice series
of pictures taken in July 2003 has been posted by Ken Ziegenbein on
A few are seen below, including a shot of the first Gomaco
replica car to arrive on the property. The cars are air
conditioned, feature an onboard wheelchair lift, and are equipped
with magnetic track brakes as an added safety feature for
operation over the Main St. bridge. All three of the Gomaco
cars are now in Little Rock, although discussions continue with
Charlotte, North Carolina about the possibility of having
Charlotte lease two of
the cars for a short period of time.
2003- The Main St. highway bridge over the Arkansas River.
The exclusive trolley right-of-way has been created on one
lane of the bridge, and the support poles for the trolley
wire are visible.
three Gomaco cars are shorter than their brethren in Tampa
and have a different letterboard and roofline, giving them
carbarn was nearing completion in this May 2003 view.
8/10/04- Construction of the River Rail streetcar
line is rapidly nearing completion, with all track
construction now complete. A Fall 2004 opening still looks
likely. Another series of construction
photos as of 11/03 was posted by Ken Ziegenbein on his
website, as well as photos
of the cars on display at the new carbarn during the
North Little Rock Centennial Celebration April 30-May 1,
2004. A comprehensive article
on the project as of early 2004 appears on the Arkansas
9/28/04- Testing is now underway on the River Rail
Streetcar Line. Preliminary work has also begun on the Phase
2 extension to the Clinton Library, including some track
construction in conjunction with a street rebuilding
project. Things are looking hopeful for a November 1
opening. A couple of nice sets of photos (photo
group 1, photo
group 2) have been posted by Ken Ziegenbein on his
website, several of which appear below.
Ken has also posted some
of the line's current
promotional literature as well as a route map. The line
will operate seven days a week, Monday-Wednesday from 11am
to 10 pm, Thursday- -Saturday 11 am - Midnight, and Sunday
11 am to 5 pm. A roundtrip fare is 50 cents, with a day pass
available for $2.
The APTA Vintage Trolley
& Streetcar Task Force is tentatively planning a
two-city meeting December 3-5, which will take in both
Memphis and Little Rock.
10/05- The October edition of Rail Transit On
Line brings the good news of federal funding for River
Rail's half-mile extension to the Clinton Presidential
mid-September, CATS released an invitation to bid on the
track and OCS for the line extension.
The Federal Transit Administration on Sept. 9
released a long-awaited $5.9-million grant to extend the
River Rail streetcar to the Clinton Presidential Center and
the headquarters of Heifer International, a hunger relief
$9.2-million project includes approximately a half-mile (0.8
km) of double track along Commerce and Third streets and two
new replica Birney streetcars, which are already on order
from Gomaco Trolley Co. and scheduled to arrive by next
March. The total
federal share of Phase 2 is $7.1 million, with the remainder
being contributed by the cities of
North Little Rock
Arkansas Transit Authority Executive Director Keith Jones
said he was ready to immediately begin seeking bids for
track and overhead power line construction, adding that the
extension could be open in about a year. “If
they can get the special track work and switches sooner, it
might be faster,” Jones told the Arkansas
know that until we have a contractor on board.”
Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey praised the project
and said he wants “…to take this on out to the airport.” Source:
Rail Transit On Line
additional replica trolley cars are also under
construction at the Gomaco
Trolley Company to serve the expanded system. The cars
are planned to include several technical improvements over
the line's three original cars, including a modern
chopper-type control system (in contrast to the 600-volt
switched resistor control system employed on the other
3/06- In November 2005, Little Rock's River Rail
system wrapped up its first year of operation, carrying
200,000 passengers. Ridership is expected to increase even
further with the opening of the .9 mile extension to the
Clinton Library. Construction on the extension began in
January 2006, and two additional streetcars are also in the
works at the Gomaco Trolley Company. Congratulations to CAT
on their very successful first year!
Ziegenbein photos, December 2005
Trolley photos, February 2006
4/06- CAT's newest Gomaco replica trolley
arrived in Little Rock on April 6. A second car is
approaching completion at the Gomaco plant. Ken Ziegenbein
has posted a nice set
of photos of the newly arrived car on his website, as
well as photos
detailing the construction progress on the new line
car 411 arrives in Little Rock on 4/6/06. KZ
trackage adjacent to the Clinton Library. KZ
412 approaches completion at Gomaco. Gomaco photo
11/06- Additional track construction
took place in late October, and testing on the new
extension to the Clinton Library should commence
shortly. Ken Ziegenbein
has posted photos
detailing the October construction progress on the new line
extension on his website.
2/07- CAT has announced that the new
extension to the Clinton Library will open on
February 16. The CAT website has a press
release with the details. Also, Ken Ziegenbein's
website has a page
with photographs of the first powered test run
over the new extension on January 18.
powered test run on the new extension, January 18,
10/07- The July 2007 edition of Rail Transit On Line had
the following report:
Arkansas Transit Authority's board of directors has
unanimously approved a design plan that would double the
storage capacity of the River Rail streetcar barn, providing
space for up to eight trolleys.
The system now operates five Birney replica cars
manufactured by Gomaco, one of which must be stored outdoors
4,860-sq.-ft. (451.5 sq. meter) addition on the south side of
the existing 9,200-sq.-ft. (854.7 meter) building will have a
brick facade facing
to match the north side, softening the mostly metal
structure’s industrial appearance.
CATA will now seek bids for final architectural design
after which the agency will issue a construction tender.
The budget for the project is $500,000, all of it from
12/07- Line extension to airport under study. An article
in the October 27 edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
reviews recent progress on a study to examine extending the River
Rail streetcar operation to the Little Rock Airport. The airport
is approximately 3 miles from the line's present Clinton Library
terminus in Little Rock.
of Little Rock system on Metro Jacksonville website
Rock articles on Light Rail Now! web site
Rock page on the APTA Heritage Trolley web site
Rock River Rail Project, FTA Summary, November 1999
Little Rock web site
Rock Replica Cars on the Gomaco Trolley Company Website
page was last updated on 2/12/09