Salt Lake City receives $26 million for Sugar House streetcar project

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 20 2010 10:00 a.m. MDT

The streetcar line also will be integrated with the Parleys Trail, creating what Simonsen says has the "opportunity to become a tremendous corridor that's really focused on transit and pedestrians."

The slower-moving streetcar would stop more frequently than a TRAX train, picking up and dropping off riders every other block. Streetcars in U.S. cities, including Portland, Ore., have shown to increase foot traffic to shops and restaurants along the line, city officials said. The permanency of the tracks spurs development in areas because the system guarantees people will have easy access specific locations.

It's a twist on the popular model of transit-oriented development, Becker said, in that the transit element is the catalyst for surrounding development.

City leaders have visited Portland and other U.S. cities with streetcar systems and have seen firsthand what they can do for an area.

"If it follows the examples of what we've seen in other areas in the country that have had (streetcars), you're going to see housing and apartments. You're going to see businesses," said JT Martin, City Council chairman. "You're going to see Sugar House come back like it was in its glory day."

In addition to encouraging development in the area, Jackson said the streetcar line will make it possible for people in Sugar House to connect with the rest of UTA's 150-mile rail system — and vice versa.

"(People will be able to) go anywhere in the valley right from this location," he said.

The Department of Transportation received nearly 1,000 construction grant applications for more than $19 billion from all 50 states, U.S. territories and Washington, D.C.

The high volume of requests for TIGER II project dollars follows a similar demand for the $1.5 billion awarded in February 2009 through the TIGER I program. The Sugar House project also was a candidate for those funds but was not selected.

Jackson said UTA and city officials were "quite optimistic" the Sugar House streetcar project would be among those receiving funding in the second round of grants.

"When we talked to the federal people when the last set of grants were issued, they told us we were right at the top of the list; we were just below the cutoff," he said. "So we were feeling quite positive in this next go-round that this project would be included and receive a grant."

e-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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