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Salt Lake Council at odds over direction of streetcar route

Published March 19, 2013 9:17 pm

Sugar House • Mayor cites economic development for alignment proposal.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

There is a train wreck — make that a streetcar wreck — shaping up at Salt Lake City Hall.

Where will the Sugar House Streetcar line end? And just as important, who gets to make that decision?

Mayor Ralph Becker's administration wants to make that call.

But some City Council members Tuesday said they weren't on board with that dictum.

By year's end, Phase I of the Sugar House Streetcar is scheduled to ply rails east from the TRAX Central Pointe Station at 200 West to McClelland Street (1050 East) along a right of way about 2250 South.

Everyone is in agreement that the line should stretch east another block to Highland Drive. But then what?

The Becker administration wants the Phase II extension to run north along Highland Drive to 2100 South and then continue north on 1100 East to 1700 South near Westminster College.

But Councilman Soren Simonsen favors an alignment heading east along Wilmington or Simpson avenues to 1300 East. Others prefer an alignment that heads north along Highland Drive and then turns east on 2100 South to 1700 East. Both would access Sugar House Park.

Simonsen said he was "frustrated" with the process that led to Becker's preferred alignment.

He said the line should extend directly east up Simpson Avenue through the shopping center that is home to Shopko at 1300 East. Such an alignment, he said, would help boost economic development in the area and better serve east Salt Lake City that has a dearth of mass transit.

However, according to the Becker administration, the consulting firm of Fehr & Peers selected the 1100 East alternative because it maximizes ridership and economic development.

City Transportation Director Robin Hutcheson said the 1100 East alignment would serve development occurring now near Highland Drive and 2100 South. Further, she said public input also favored the 1100 East alignment.

Council members Kyle LaMalfa and Jill Remington Love also appeared to support the 1100 East alignment. Both said the public process had been robust.

But Councilman Luke Garrott said no alignment should be adopted without a comprehensive master plan.

A public hearing on the Sugar House Streetcar line extension is set for 7 p.m. April 23 in room 315 at City Hall, 451 S. State.

csmart@sltrib.com