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Ashley Lowery, Deseret News
Local artist Ruby Chacon hugs her niece, Aundrea Maestas, 10, at Mestizo coffee shop Saturday.

Advocates for neighborhoods on Salt Lake's west side celebrated their victory in persuading the City Council to endorse plans for a transportation corridor along 400 West to connect existing and proposed TRAX lines.

"The neighborhood has always been strong, but this issue brought us together in new ways," said Tiffany Sandberg, a west-side resident. "And now, because of it, we're better able to address future issues that affect the west side."

The Utah Transit Authority originally proposed that the lines run along 600 West, but after a surge of public resistance, the City Council unanimously approved 400 West as the transportation corridor to connect the existing downtown TRAX system with the North Temple route that will run to the airport.

The City Council has the option to revisit the issue though the end of the year and change the preferred alignment by ordinance, thought it is unlikely that 600 West would be an option.

Yet, while the taste of victory is sweet for activists, most felt that the real victory was the solidarity residents achieved as they fought for a common goal.

"It brought the neighborhoods from all directions together," said Maria Garciaz, executive director of NeighborWorks Salt Lake. "I haven't seen solidarity like this in probably 20 years."

For the celebration there was barbecue and sweets for residents and an inflatable jungle gym for children. Garciaz said that people had asked her if there was a program or if politicians would be making speeches at the celebration. She said no, it was only a celebration of the neighborhoods' success.

Typically after decisions are made by government officials, those involved go their separate ways, said City Councilman Carlton Christensen. He described the gathering as the "icing on the cake" because advocates came together to celebrate their success Saturday.

"(These residents) have created a model that is good and one that should exist," Christensen said. "This is a neighborhood empowering themselves and saying, 'This is what we want."'

Christensen commended the residents' efforts and their ability to involve people who are not typically involved in the political process.

"It's been an interesting process because I think a lot of us have learned how the government works," said Jeff Sandberg, a resident of West Valley. "There were also some lessons in how big business and money can affect the government's decisions at times, but the right voices were heard this time."


E-mail: cnorlen@desnews.com