Loyola Streetcar Line Opening is Big Win for City NEW ORLEANS -- While the game plans are still being developed by teams inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Regional Transit Authority crossed its own "goal line" with the opening of the UPT-Loyola Streetcar today. Federal, state and local officials gathered for festivities at the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (NOUPT), followed by an inaugural ride to Canal Street with celebratory stops along the way. Local schools were showcased with entertainment by the McDonogh #35 High School Choir, the Pledge of Allegiance led by students from the nearby Dryades YMCA/James M. Singleton Charter School and the national anthem by the acclaimed St. Augustine Marching 100 Band. Upon their return to the UPT, the guests on the streetcars enjoyed music by Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Orchestra. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood addressed the audience on behalf of the Obama Administration. "We are committed to helping New Orleans modernize its historic streetcar line, which has become an important catalyst for revitalizing the downtown business and tourist districts," he said. LaHood referenced the $2 billion in economic development projects in and around the corridor stating, "The Obama Administration will continue investing in good transportation projects like this one that keeps our economy moving forward." Other speakers included U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, City Council President Stacy Head and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. "Our streetcars are an integral part of this city's rich culture and history so today truly is a day for celebration," said Congressman Richmond. "These transit upgrades are a vital investment for the residents, commuters and businesses in the city of New Orleans. I am thankful for President Obama and Secretary LaHood's commitment in seeing this project through to fruition and will continue to use my voice and vote in Congress as an advocate for even further investments in Louisiana's infrastructure." The $53 million streetcar project is funded primarily through a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) competitive grant, which funds innovative projects with significant economic and environmental benefits for the surrounding community and region. The funds were used to construct 1.6 miles of track and specialized turn-out tracks at the UPT and at Canal Street and eight state-of-the-art, solar-powered transit shelters that include video kiosks for schedule information. The project also includes relocation and replacement of underground utilities, road paving and striping and landscaping. "New Orleans is home to the greatest streetcar network in the world," said Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu. "They are a reminder of this city's unique history, and this new line is a catalyst for even greater things to come for New Orleans. Projects have already sprung up along the Loyola Avenue corridor downtown. And both residents and visitors will now be able to utilize this more efficient and affordable mode of transportation to access the heart of downtown. New Orleans has become the model for the nation with the completion of this major infrastructure project" The mayor, who served as Master of Ceremonies, introduced RTA Board Chairwoman Barbara C. Major, who stated that the project is important to the community in many ways, but transportation for its residents is at the heart of it. "It gives me great pride to be opening a streetcar line that is bringing better transportation services to the community as well as access to jobs and economic investment in this corridor," said Barbara C. Major, Chairwoman of the RTA. "This project is only the beginning for the RTA as we continue to expand our streetcar network around the city."