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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — MATA will begin testing a “modern streetcar” on the long-shuttered Madison Avenue trolley line in the next 90-120 days. The upcoming test could lead to the Madison line reopening.

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A spokesperson for MATA confirmed the transit service plans to test new electric streetcars on the route to see if the existing infrastructure will support them. If testing is successful, it would still be a long process to get those streetcars up and running.

“The first time it goes down the line it will be at walking speed so that we have a whole team of people walking around the car, looking at every aspect of it and looking at how every turn of the wheel is affected by the condition of the track,” MATA CEO Gary Rosenfeld said.

MATA currently provides service on the route using rubber-wheeled trolley buses, but MATA said the new electric streetcars would run on the existing tracks. Compared to historic trolleys, the streetcars would have a modern interior, heating and air conditioning and larger passenger capacity.

“The integration of modern streetcars is a cost-efficient method to provide high frequency service on intensely developed corridors, increase ridership, inspire economic development, and expand energy-efficient transportation options,” MATA said in a statement.

Rosenfeld said the streetcars, which were once used in San Diego, California, are likely to bring a big boost to the Madison corridor.

News of the test was welcomed by Stephanie Mills, Owner of 901 to 504 – Memphis to New Orleans, a boutique in the Edge District.

“I’m so excited. I’ve been to the Commute Memphis meetings and we’re so excited about the progress that’s coming to the Edge district,” Mills said. “I have a ton of people that are at Sun Studios and they come down and they ask about public transportation and the best way to get around the city.”

Trolley service on the Main, Madison and Riverfront lines was suspended in 2014 after two historic trolleys caught fire. Service using historic trolleys has since returned to Main Street, but not to the Riverfront or Madison lines.

The Madison line runs east from Main Street to Cleveland Street. It was built in the early 2000s following old trolley lines that were removed decades earlier.

Young also reported that MATA has purchased three trolleys and is looking to rehabilitate them to restore service on the Riverfront line.

100 N. Main progress

100 N. Main

Also Wednesday, Young announced that six development groups have been chosen as finalists for the renovation of the 100 N. Main building, which has sat vacant for several years. All of the applicants proposed a mix of residential, office and retail for the structure.

Finalists are:

  • 100 N. Main Development Partners, primary: Kevin Woods
  • Alexander Co., primary: Joseph Alexander
  • Block Real Estate Services and Sunflower Development Group, primary: Aaron Mesmer
  • Carlisle Development Co. LLC, primary: Chase Carlisle
  • Flaherty & Collins, primary: David Flaherty
  • Russel Glen and Matthews Southwest, primary: Terrence G. Maiden