West-side residents once again made it clear: They don't want light rail running along 600 West.
More than a dozen west-siders spoke during a public hearing Tuesday night, restating to members of the Salt Lake City Council their opposition to an alignment proposed by the Utah Transit Authority that would run the airport TRAX line along 600 West instead of 400 West.
"We are very passionately in favor of the airport TRAX line on 400 West," said Tiffany Sandberg, one of about 40 residents at the meeting who wore homemade badges calling for a "yes" vote on the resolution to set the alignment.
The council had been scheduled to vote on the resolution following a briefing on the project from UTA and the public hearing. Both the briefing and vote were put off, however, "due to the need for additional information and time for more extensive review," according to a council statement.
That puts the decision about the airport line alignment in the hands of a council that will have two new members Luke Garrott (District 4) and JT Martin (District 6) when it next meets on Jan. 7.
The location of the intermodal hub and business developments in the area prompted UTA earlier this year to begin studying whether to move a segment of the airport TRAX line from 400 West to 600 West.
The 600 West alignment made sense to UTA officials because it would create a direct connection with the intermodal hub, cost about $12.5 million less and have less negative impact on traffic, said spokeswoman Carrie Bohnsack-Ware.
West-siders have been opposed to the idea, largely because the 600 West alignment would necessitate a new viaduct over the Union Pacific and commuter-rail lines that run near South Temple. They argue that the alignment would hurt views from their homes, increase traffic and crime, and contribute to perceptions that physical and sociological barriers exist between Salt Lake City's west and east sides.
Residents would like to see the North Temple viaduct completely rebuilt to allow the TRAX line to run down the middle of the bridge.
Members of the City Council have said they see the merits of rebuilding the viaduct, but they're concerned about the $40 million it would add to the price tag.
The existing North Temple is still in good enough condition that it would not qualify for federal funding assistance, Councilman Carlton Christensen said.
Mickelle Weber was one of the few residents who spoke in favor of the 600 West alignment, saying it would benefit the entire state, not just one community, by creating a direct route between the downtown intermodal hub and the airport.
In other City Council business Tuesday:
• Old wounds were reopened as the council approved a request by Rowland Hall-St. Mark's School for an extension to meet the conditions of council action that allowed the private school to move forward with plans to purchase land from Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Council members voted by the same 5-2 count, with Nancy Saxton and Soren Simonsen in opposition, as they did in April 2006 to change zoning on 13 acres of cemetery land.
The council's action 18 months ago removed one hurdle the financially strapped cemetery faced in trying to sell the land to Rowland Hall-St. Mark's. That approval required that certain conditions be met within two years. At the request of Rowland Hall-St. Mark's and Mount Olivet officials, the deadline was pushed back until Dec. 31, 2010.
When Congress created Mount Olivet, it included a provision in the land contracts that the property would revert back to the federal government if it were ever used for anything other than a cemetery. The school and cemetery have not yet received congressional approval to complete the land deal.
Thirteen people spoke at a public hearing on the extension, with nine of them urging the council to deny the extension.
Robert Steiner, a member of the school's board of trustees, said the school has been working diligently toward getting that approval and that it's likely to come before the extended deadline.
The school plans to use the 13 acres for a future expansion that would bring its middle- and upper-school campuses to contiguous sites.
• By a 5-2 vote, the council amended its budget for the upcoming fiscal year to include a little more than $200,000 for six new full-time employees in the city prosecutor's office and another $15,000 for attorney salary increases for the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association.
The additional funds will allow the prosecutor's office to hire two new attorneys, one paralegal and three office clerks to help deal with a heavy workload.
The Salt Lake Legal Defender Association will increase base salaries for attorneys from $45,000-$47,0000 annually to $51,000, making them comparable with salaries offered by the city prosecutor's office.Outgoing council members Saxton and Dave Buhler voted against the budget amendment.
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