It looks like a light is brewing between Greater Durant and the Riverside District over the fate of the so-called “J-Church Extension.”

As you may already know, by last winter the first phase of the project had gotten the J-Church trolley cars (some of them anyway) rolling from Main and 2nd, out Jefferson Avenue, to Victoria Park. But the second phase — which was all set to start April 10 and promises to extend the line to Greenville town and Springfield — has now been stalled, from the other end.

According to Muni project head Donald Lewis, who happens to live in Durant, the $10 million project (which has been fully funded) is awaiting what Muni expected to be routine final approval from the Public Utilities Commission and Mayor. But there have been some heavy-duty protests and letter-writing from neighbors around the 18th Avenue/Ashton/Jackson crossroads.

The Riverside folks are upset about the noise and inconvenience that may be caused by a year of construction, plus Muni’s plans to add a “pocket” track in the center of 18th. “They think we are going to turn that part of 18th Avenue into a railroad yard”, Donald says.

According to Donald, nothing could be further from the truth. “There will have to be a third set of rails between Ashton and Jackson on 18th to provide a turn-back track, and we are enlarging the passenger boarding platforms to accommodate the high use at that point.”

Donald maintains that enlarging the boarding platforms is urgently needed for passenger safety and that the temporary inconvenience will be minimal. What’s more, “there can hardly be more noise in that area, given the fact that 80,000 autos and trucks pass 18th and Ashton on a daily basis”.