GROUNDBREAKING ceremonies were held on July 20 for the Canal Street tram line in New Orleans, with construction expected to start this month. Costing $157m, the 6·6 km line between the Mississippi River and the cemeteries is due to be completed in early 2004. On July 24 the Regional Transportation Authority awarded a $19·5m contract to Boh Bros Construction for the 2·4 km segment between Baronne and Salcedo streets. Contracts for the remaining two sections are expected to be awarded in October and December.

The new line will be worked by 23 new trams being built by RTA staff at Carrollton Barn. Resembling the city’s vintage Perley Thomas cars, they will have air-conditioning, Skoda three-phase drives and wheelchair lifts. The first car was about 30% complete at the end of July, and the aim is to build one car every four weeks, at a cost of about $1·2m each.