Thursday, March 29, 2007

SugarHouse Trolley in Desnews

Deseret Morning News, Thursday, March 29, 2007

Rail, trolley, buses: Sugar House looks at options

UTA holding open house on the issue Monday evening

By Doug Smeath
Deseret Morning News

An abandoned rail line runs at about 2200 South through South Salt Lake and Sugar House, unused and an "eyesore," as Salt Lake City Councilman Van Turner calls it.

One day, it could be a new transportation route.

The Utah Transit Authority has begun studying transit alternatives for the area from about 200 West to Highland Drive, and the possibilities include a new light-rail line, a modified bus system or even historic trolley cars.

UTA representative G.J. LaBonty updated the City Council on its study Tuesday, and he is hoping for public input in the process.

An open house on the issue will be held Monday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Columbus Center, 2531 S. 400 East.

UTA owns the old Union Pacific rail line that runs from about 200 West, near the 2100 South TRAX station, to just west of Highland Drive behind the Granite block in Sugar House.

Consultants are considering a light-rail line, either along the rail corridor or somewhere else in the area, a street-car system, bus rapid transit or vintage trolleys, an idea promoted by former Sugar House resident Doug White.

"I just think it would be both a transportation fit and an attraction for the community," White said.

He has started a nonprofit group aimed at turning the idea into reality. He has been offered a trolley from a company in England, which could be rented for $1 a year, because the company believes it is a good promotional opportunity.

However, White wants to run that trolley, which has a modern design, while he can buy and revamp some more historic trolleys. He knows of the existence of three old trolleys that ran in Salt Lake City in the 1920s and '30s, but they need a lot of work before they could run again.

Whichever option UTA ultimately settles on, it will likely need a number of funding sources — including local, state, federal and donor money. Officials don't yet know how much the various ideas would cost.

LaBonty said the study is in its beginning stages, and it likely will be the end of the year before the alternatives are narrowed down to a preferred option. After that, environmental and other studies will be required. LaBonty estimated it could be a 15- to 20-year process before the new transit system is up and running.


© 2007 Deseret News Publishing Company

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