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Money to study trolley service from Peabody to Salem OK’d

PEABODY — A study to bring trolley service from Peabody Square to the Salem commuter rail station could get underway later this spring after the city received $50,000 from the state to conduct the study.

“We met recently with a consultant recommended by the MBTA planning office to put together a scope of work to help us hire a business planning consultant, who can do a trolley study for us,” said Curt Bellavance, the city’s planning and community development director.

The consultant for the study could be in place within the next couple of weeks, said Bellavance.

The overall concept is to run a high rail trolley service on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority track running from Peabody Square to the Salem station. High-rail trolleys are similar to maintenance vehicles used on railroads that can operate on tracks as well as roads.

State representative Thomas Walsh (D-Peabody) said the trolley could be a boon for younger people looking at apartments in Peabody Square, and want easier access to jobs in Boston.

Several residents stated they are intrigued by the prospect of trolley service as a direct link to the commuter rail. But, as is almost always the case in downtown Peabody, there are those who have questions about how the proposal could affect parking.

“I’ve seen the parking issues for residents doing business in downtown Salem, and honestly I don’t want to see that happen in Peabody where the businesses already have to compete with the malls for customers,” said Tara Guanci. “Customers fighting just to park will get frustrated and go elsewhere.”

Kristen Cafarelli said the trolley could benefit the city and residents.

“I live in the downtown area and our only options to commute into Boston are to drive to either the train station or into the city, which adds to the traffic congestion,” she said. “The current bus lines do not run directly to Salem station, nor is there any mass transit option near Lowell Street.”

Bellavance said the study, which is likely to take several months, will look at issues such as parking, stakeholders, scope of service, and schedules.

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