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Red Hook Trolley Mastermind Sues City for $160M

Bob Diamond, who helmed a project to bring trolley car service back to Red Hook, is suing the city for scrapping his plans.

Rail enthusiast Bob Diamond is suing the City for $160 million after the Department of Transportation scrapped his plans for a trolley service from Downtown to Red Hook, according to the Brooklyn Paper.

Diamond, who gained fame in 1980 when he re-discovered a forgotten stretch of a Long Island Rail Road tunnel that passed between Court and Hicks streets, had the City’s blessing to lead tours of the space, . A scheduled Rooftop Films event that was to be housed in the tunnel , after FDNY cited “safety issues.”

According to the Paper, Diamond says that the DOT gave him the rights to bring trolley car service back to Brooklyn, and after having spent $1.5 million to get the plan off the ground, DOT shuttered the project. Diamond’s suit also alleges that the DOT illegally shut down his tours of the abandoned LIRR tunnel. 

In the late 1990s, Diamond began to lay tracks for the streetcar line (which was to run from Beard Street to Borough Hall, via Columbia Street and Atlantic Avenue), and in 2000, received approval from the City to complete the project, according to the Paper’s report. 

But in April 2011, the DOT released a feasibility study on the trolley project, and found that building and maintenance costs were too high, and projected ridership was too low. The project would cost $176 million to build, with another $6.2 to $7.2 million per year to operate, and would only serve 1,822 riders per day.

The study, funded by a $295,000 federal grant, also says that Red Hook's roads are too narrow for streetcars, and, since the trolleys must make wide turns, many parking spaces along the route will have to be eliminated.

Speaking to the Daily News in April, after plans for the trolley were scrapped, Diamond, who is also the president of the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association, said: "They're missing out on a pollution-free mode of transportation that's proven to bring neighborhoods together.”

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