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Streetcars could roll in 3 years

Becker says plans for $50M route to Sugar House on track

Published: Saturday, May 30 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Six decades after Salt Lake City packed away its streetcar, the slow-moving transit system could see a Sugar House revival in the next three years, officials say.

The $40 million to $50 million streetcar line from the 2100 South TRAX station to McClelland Street in Sugar House is "on or ahead of schedule," Mayor Ralph Becker said Friday.

The single-track line could eventually be expanded to two tracks and then stretched east to Westminster and north to the University of Utah, said Salt Lake City Councilman Soren Simonsen.

"We want this to be a valley project," said South Salt Lake Mayor Bob Gray.

The "development-oriented transit" line would run through the Market Street development on the city's west side and end near the proposed Granite Block development. The success of either project depends on the other, officials said.

"Development just goes crazy when you put something like this in," Gray said.

The streetcar would travel more slowly than TRAX trains and would stop every other block, said Utah Transit Authority spokesman Gerry Carpenter.

Daphne Perry, who lives along the proposed line, raised concerns Friday about property values and noise levels once the streetcar system is running.

Keith Bartholomew, a University of Utah urban planning professor and member of UTA's board of trustees, said streetcars typically raise property values — sometimes significantly.

Once the line is in place, Sugar House would have "some of the most exciting and sought-after neighborhoods," Bartholomew said.

Simonsen said the system could reduce traffic near 2100 South and Highland Drive by as much as 20 percent.

The streetcar line would not hinder the progress of the Pratt Trail, an effort to connect Parley's Canyon with the Jordan River Parkway, officials said.

Preliminary engineering studies have been completed for the project, but officials are still looking at funding options. Should the federal government get involved, a lengthy environmental study process could delay the project a year or more.

E-mail: afalk@desnews.com

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