On the heels of snatching federal cash for the planned Sugar House streetcar, Salt Lake City has been awarded more money from Washington this time to explore alignment options for streetcars downtown.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has allotted $470,000 for a Redevelopment Agency feasibility study. Utah's capital was one of 24 winners among 67 bids in the nationwide competition for $25.7 million, according to the Mayor's Office.
Since taking office in 2008, Mayor Ralph Becker has promoted the idea of introducing streetcars to crisscross downtown's Central Business District and connect to TRAX and FrontRunner stations. The mayor has led city delegations and business leaders to the Pacific Northwest on fact-finding missions for streetcars.
The latest grant is not nearly enough to fund an actual downtown system, but will pay for the necessary "alternatives analysis." The FTA cited the city's sustainability and redevelopment goals in awarding the grant.
"With this funding from the FTA, we take a giant step towards development of our downtown streetcar system," Becker said in a news release. "With a daytime population that doubles every day, the City Creek development under way and the expansive growth of our downtown core in Salt Lake City, the timing of this funding to increase our transit options couldn't be better."
The downtown study area stretches from 500 East to 600 West between South Temple and 900 South. No firm decisions have been made about where to route the streetcars. But city planners like the idea of using them to complete a so-called "circulator" with TRAX.
The city was awarded $26 million in federal funds for the Sugar House streetcar in October. That line is expected to traverse an abandoned rail corridor between 2100 South and Interstate 80 from the Central Pointe TRAX Station to McClelland Street near the Sugar House business district. The line could be complete by early 2012.
There is no timetable and as yet no funding for a downtown streetcar network
Derek P. Jensen