In a four-to-three decision the Salt Lake City council adopted the Sugar House Streetcar alignment recommended by a consulting firm the city hired to study the project. In other words, the second phase of the streetcar will be routed north on 1100 east despite fierce opposition
. But members of the council who favor that route say it’s in the best interest of the city as a whole to move forward.
Sugar House resident Mark Unruh says he doesn’t understand the council’s decision.
“Our representative laid out multiple reasons why this does not make sense," Unruh says. "It’s not wanted by the public, not wanted by a lot of the local businesses down 1100 east and yet they’re going to play politics and run it down there anyway.”
The motion was adopted with the understanding that phase-2 construction will not begin until all potential impacts on the community are considered. The City Council intends to bring together a group of residents and business leaders in the area to examine how the streetcar line could affect the neighborhood. Some concerns include making sure 1100 east can safely accommodate emergency vehicles and bicycles alongside the new streetcar. Councilwoman Jill Remington Love said the process that lead to this decision was long and thorough.
“After listening to planners and experts, after visiting Portland, Seattle and Vancouver to see their streetcar systems up close, after talking both by phone and in person to small business owners in these cities, I believe we need to get to work on the next link," Love said.
Love noted every extension of TRAX in the community has faced opposition.
“Fear mongers," Love says. "But courageous public officials kept moving forward. Our community has been well-served by those decision-makers.”
Councilman Charlie Luke has long-supported an eastward expansion to better serve east bench residents. But in the meeting he proposed terminating the line at Highland drive until a city-wide transportation plan is adopted. That motion failed.
“Unlike my colleague, Councilwoman Love I do have concerns with the process," Luke says. "I do believe there were a number of things that could have been done, that should have been done to involve more city residents in this process."
The first phase of the Sugar House Streetcar is slated for completion at the end of this year. It runs from the Central Pointe TRAX Station on 200 west to about 1050 east.