The city is $200,000 in federal dollars closer to establishing a long-awaited transportation center near Valley Fair Mall.

The City Council last week approved a resolution that accepts another $200,000 in federal funding and clears the way for an environmental assessment of the proposed intermodal hub.Tentative plans place the intermodal hub, which would bring buses and other forms of transportation to a central location, in the southwest mall parking area between the building and 2700 West.

Wilbur Smith Associates is already conducting a $250,000 major investment study on the transportation hub, but the scope of the study has been expanded and the city needs additional money to finish the work.

The Federal Transit Administration, through the Utah Transit Authority, has agreed to provide another $200,000 to finish the investment study and extend Wilbur Smith's contract to include the environmental assessment.

West Valley City will match the federal $200,000 with $50,000 in cash or in-kind work, city officials said.

Once the environmental study is finished - the completion date is Oct. 31 - the city can move ahead with preliminary engineering and design of the proposed hub.

City spokesman Ed Quinlan said West Valley City would like to have the intermodal hub constructed and in operation prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics.

"The mall is giving up space so the transportation center can be built there," he said. "And the FTA, through the UTA, will provide most of the money to build the hub. Then the UTA will run it."

Transportation hubs are proposed for construction in several Utah cities, tying together bus and taxi service with passenger trains, light rail and ground transportation to airports - all in one central location with a variety of other amenities for travelers.

A light-rail spur also is being considered for West Valley City, although a recent Rural and Urban Design Assistance Team report questioned whether there would be enough local riders to make a spur financially feasible.