If Salt Lake City gets a $10.6 million federal grant to extend the Sugar House Streetcar line to the intersection of 2100 South and Highland Drive, the City Council has pledged tentatively to come up with $3.1 million in required matching funds.
But in making that commitment, the council said Tuesday it wants Mayor Ralph Becker’s administration to secure financial support for the project from Sugar House businesses that will benefit from the extension.
"Property owners have to put some skin in," said Councilman Kyle LaMalfa, endorsing colleague Luke Garrott’s call for the city to round up commercial underwriting to minimize the extension’s impact on Salt Lake City’s general fund.
City officials submitted an application for the federal Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant on April 28 to extend the "S" line from its current end at the corner of Sugarmont Drive (2225 South) and McClelland Street (1045 East) east to Highland Drive, then north to 2100 South.
"It’s a highly competitive [application] process," said City Transportation Director Robin Hutcheson, noting that if funding is secured, it would be used in part to reduce the number of traffic lanes on Highland Drive from four to three between Sugarmont Drive and 2100 South.
In addition, "There are numerous improvements that could be made to make the community more walkable, bikeable and a more robust place to be," she added.
Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall endorsed the mayor’s approach.
"This is an incredible opportunity to turn $3 million into $14 million and put a head on the streetcar," she said, contending the S line "stops way short of its potential by not getting to the [2100 South] intersection."
This will be particularly true, Mendenhall said, when a new housing complex at the intersection is completed and other steps are taken to bolster Sugar House’s central business district.
David Everett, Becker’s chief of staff, said the administration has not figured out where the $3.1 million should come from if the city obtains the federal grant, and he asked for flexibility to develop a funding plan that would be submitted for council approval.
"We don’t want to rule out any options," he said.
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