Steel-Wheeled Trolleys Making Comeback in Galveston

Steel-wheeled trolleys will make their long-awaited return to the streets of Galveston later this year, but first, they need to make a pit stop in Ida Grove, Iowa.

The Galveston County Daily News reports years after the cars were damaged by Hurricane Ike, Galveston City Council voted on Thursday to approve a contract with Iowa-based Gomaco Trolley Company to repair three of the island's trolleys. The cars have been out of commission since the storm in 2008.

"It is great to be on track," City Manager Brian Maxwell said. "I think it's going to have major impact both for tourism and ... towards our goal of getting our visitors out of their cars."

The contract totals nearly $3.8 million, about $1.26 million per car. The trolleys will be shipped to Ida Grove by heavy duty trucks and are expected to be ready by the end of 2017, Maxwell said.

Around $1.6 million will be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The rest will come from insurance and convention center surplus funds, or money left over from local hotel taxes after allocations have been made to other city groups that use the funds.

City council first approved the restoration of the trolley system in February 2015, but only after it was threatened with having to repay federal grants used to build the trolley service before the storm.

The island had four trolleys in operation before the storm, but one of them was not running at the time because of repairs. Some criticized the trolleys before Ike because they operated at a loss and were sometimes seen as an unreliable form of transportation.

Funding is only available for three of the four cars, but Gomaco has promised to hold the price of $1.26 million for the fourth car if funds become available before December, Maxwell said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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