Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityTask force proposes RiverRail streetcar line connecting Notre Dame, South Bend, Mishawaka | WSBT
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Task force proposes RiverRail streetcar line connecting Notre Dame, South Bend, Mishawaka

Proposed RiverRail map{p}{/p}
Proposed RiverRail map

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A local group wants to connect you with amenities in St. Joseph County by streetcar.

The proposed six-mile system — called RiverRail — would run from Notre Dame, through South Bend, to Mishawaka. Advocates say it has the power to transform and revitalize the area.

Tucson is a city that has a streetcar system. Here, RiverRail Task Force members we spoke with say the economic development that’s happened in Tucson now amounts to 10 times the initial investment to build it. They believe that growth could happen locally.

Here’s the proposed map: From Notre Dame to the Morris Performing Arts Center, Howard Park, the South Bend Farmers Market, IUSB, River Park, Beutter Park, to downtown Mishawaka.

RiverRail task force member Lou Pierce says the streetcar system could pull all of those assets together and bring the urban core back to life in just a couple years.

"There’s a lot of property in urban areas that’s gone underutilized and it’s really valuable. Something like this can really bring people back," said Pierce.

He says once developers know there’s a permanent line there, they’re much more confident in making investments around it. Pierce says Transpo is on board with the idea so far.

"What Transpo can do is reallocate or adjust their existing bus systems to provide even a better service if the urban core is already taken care of.”

Pierce says the tracks would be built into already existing right-of-way areas — like on Mishawaka Avenue. The street cars would not interfere with parking or bike lanes, and he says the system would be electric, so it would be environmentally friendly.

Another Task Force Member, Doug Hunt, says this could be a game-changer for the South Bend area.

“Young people, retirees – they want to live more in urban settings," said Hunt. "They don’t necessarily want to have to rely on a car all of the time, not that you won’t have a car – but the opportunity to really restore neighborhoods' strength and vibrancy-- I think it’s a real opportunity and we’ve got a lot to build on here.”

The next steps for the project are a formal study, then a proposal for city and county officials.

They hope to get that in front of state and federal officials soon so that infrastructure funding from the Biden Administration can cover a big portion of the project. There’s not a specific timeline when that could happen.

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For more information on the proposed RiverRail, click here.

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