Local Government
3:05 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

SLC Spokesman: Grant for Streetcar Was Unattainable

Salt Lake City has missed a deadline to apply for a federal grant for the second phase of the Sugar House streetcar line.  But a spokesperson for Mayor Ralph Becker says they never intended to meet it.  

Salt Lake City did not make the June 30th deadline for the latest ration of grant money from the so-called "TIGER" program — Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery.  But Art Raymond with the mayor's office says that’s only because the city still has plenty of work to do before completing the application, including an environmental analysis.  He says they'll go after the rest of the money when the project is "shovel ready."

“It is a lengthy and involved effort and that was really at the source of our urgency for getting a locally preferred alignment determined," Raymond says.

In a 4 to 3 decision, the Salt Lake City Council voted last May to route the streetcar north on 1100 East. Members of the public filled city hall back in April to voice their opposition to that alignment.  But Raymond says the city has also received a fair amount of support, and re-evaluating the chosen alignment means they'd have to start over.

 “It would essentially put us back to square one and it’s time we can ill afford to waste with the work we need to do right now to be prepared," Raymond says.

Salt Lake City Councilman Soren Simonsen says this will open the door for a timely conversation about how the city plans to match the federal grant to fully fund the project. 

 “Because at best we may get 70 percent of the funds from this federal grant for the cost of $35 million construction, which is about what the estimated value is," Simonsen says. " If it’s like the first phase, we’ll get maybe half of it.”

Art Raymond says the city is confident it can pay for phase two of the Sugar House Streetcar. He notes phase 1 has already generated at least $450 million in associated development. He says the city has no reason to believe phase 2 wouldn’t also pay for itself over time.