Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini kicked off a federal funding program for the Gateway area Tuesday, which may affect Tuesday night's City Council meeting on where to put a controversial intermodal transportation hub in the area.
"I'm not sure I would have chosen today, of all days, for this particular presentation," said Councilman Carlton Christensen.Corradini's administration is pushing hard for a hub at 600 West and 200 South to serve as a link for light rail, commuter rail, buses, Amtrak, taxis and other forms of transportation, and three council members are leaning her way. Three others, however, want the hub to be at or close to the Union Pacific Depot to put commuter rail closer to downtown and give commuters a sense of arrival. The 600 West/
200 South site would doom commuter rail, say council members Tom Rogan, Deeda Seed and Joanne Milner.
Councilman Roger Thompson is squarely on the fence. He refuses to predict how he will vote Tuesday night and even hints at postponement of the decision, something that sends city staffers into fits because of tight construction and funding schedules, driven primarily by the 2002 Winter Games.
Some council members said Corradini chose Tuesday to present the grand plan for the Gateway area (the presentation was held, ironically, at the Union Pacific Depot) in order to pressure them into voting her way.
Rogan, Seed and Milner have generally resented what they perceive to be the administration railroading them into rubberstamping a decision that has already been made.
The city's Redevelopment Agency flew councilmen Rogan, Thompson and Bryce Jolley to Portland over the weekend in an attempt to solidify the 600 West 200 South site, but Rogan returned even more convinced that a hub near the Union Pacific Depot is the way to go.
The presentation was an outgrowth of Salt Lake City's being chosen recently as one of 16 federal "brownfield showcase communities," meaning it will get up to $1.1 million in funding as well as technical help and a full-time Environmental Protection Agency staffer to coordinate the federal programs.
An impressive array of federal agencies were represented at Tuesday's presentation, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Transit Administration, the Department of Energy, the Forest Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice, all of which pledged their help to revitalizing the Gateway.
The FTA has pledged to help fund the intermodal hub, but regional administrator Lou Mraz said Tuesday that splitting the hub to two locations, a possibility that Thompson has said intrigues him, would go against the federal government's goal of easy transfer between transportation modes and may affect funding.
"The choice of where to put a terminal is up to the city, but (splitting it) would not meet the goal of having everything in one place," he said.
As for what the council will decide Tuesday night, nobody knows. Christensen has an idea, "but I wouldn't bet you a milkshake on it."
The council is also due to decide Tuesday on where to put I-15 high-occupancy vehicle ramps to and from Davis County and the alignment of a proposed east-west light rail line.