Streetcars won't be rolling in downtown St. Paul for at least five years, but if they do, we know where the first line will likely be.

Last week the St. Paul Planning Commission on a 12-2 vote passed a resolution that approved staff to proceed with a more detailed study and analysis of a starter line on East and West 7th Street between Arcade Street and Randolph Avenue. The motion also included adoption of the long-term network of feasible streetcar routes, which includes plans for up to six other lines.

The City Council gets the issue next and will address it sometime this spring, said Michelle Beaulieu with the city's planning department.

Originally, 30 options for streetcar lines were on the table. Those were whittled down to seven. Out of those, the 4.1-mile segment along 7th Street performed best based on factors that included existing bus ridership, projected ridership on the streetcar line and potential for economic development.

The next study will look at how to route the line through downtown St. Paul,look at how the line would improve transit connectivity, analyze the capital, operating and lifecycle costs, and look at its economic development potential. That would include looking at impacts of streetcar lines in other U.S. cities.

Spokeswoman Sara Swenson said the study is necessary to allow St. Paul stay in line for any federal funding that might be available.

Early estimates put the cost of the Seventh Street line at about $240 to $250 million.

The other lines identified in the long-term network of potential streetcars include Payne Avenue, Rice Street, Selby and Snelling Avenues, Grand Avenue and Robert Street.

For more information see the St. Paul Streetcar page.

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