Friday, October 26, 2007

Streetcar/Trolley is the Locally Preferred Alternative

Valley Journal October 2007
UTA looking at improved transit in South Salt Lake

By Josh McFadden
Some big transportation changes
could soon be coming to South Salt
Lake, and residents will have influence
over what eventually happens.
The Utah Transit Authority is conducting
a traffic study along the Sugar
House corridor, the area between 1700
South and I-80 and from the TRAX line
to 1300 East. UTA is considering a number
of options to relieve traffic congestion
and has given local residents opportunities
to voice their feelings.
“There are plans for growth and population
here,” said G.J. Labonty, project
manager with Fehr and Peers, a consulting
firm that is conducting the study for
UTA. “We won’t do this against the will
of the people. This has been an open

process. We want to come to reasonable
In April, UTA held an open house at
the Columbus Center. The three-hour
session showed visitors what the traffic
study would entail, what the existing
conditions along the corridor looked like
and what changes UTA was considering.
A second open house was held in Sugar
House on July 12.
Visitors to the open houses responded
to what forms of transit they would
most prefer to see in the corridor. UTA
is considering a bus rapid transit service,
a system where buses would operate at
lower speeds with greater frequency.
These busses would also drive in a rightof-
way lane. A second option is expanding
routes along 2100 South. Other al

include a streetcar/trolley line
in the corridor and an additional TRAX
line. Of the four options, the trolley line
would be the most costly at $36.7 million.
The 2100 South bus line would be
the cheapest, with a construction cost of
$9.8 million.
At a September South Salt Lake City
Council meeting, Labonty presented the
results from the open houses.
“The locally preferred alternative
is a streetcar,” he said. “People like the
lower speeds. This is a very localized
corridor. The community is established
and compact. The people don’t want to
be disrupted.”
Even with the higher building costs,
not to mention the annual maintenance
costs of $1.6 million, 71 percent of the
open house respondents said they wanted
the streetcar/trolley system.
The traffic study began in January
and is expected to continue through the
end of autumn. Whatever changes are
selected, Labonty said it will be in the
best interest of the public and those that
use the corridor the most.
“UTA is supportive of this alignment,”
he said. “More people have vested
interests. What we’re about is commuters
and students.”

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

South Salt Lakers favor streetcar link

By Cathy McKitrick The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:09/27/2007 01:23:47 AM MDT

SOUTH SALT LAKE - A modern streetcar system - which would cost $36 million to build - emerged as the local favorite to traverse the east-west corridor connecting this central Salt Lake Valley city to the popular east-side Sugar House commercial district. And the old rail line formerly used to haul freight along 2250 South - the Utah Transit Authority now owns that 2-mile right-of-way - got best marks as the preferred route for the streetcars. Such were the preliminary findings of an alternatives analysis study conducted for UTA by Fehr and Peers, a transportation consulting firm with offices in California, Salt Lake City and Denver. At Wednesday's South Salt Lake City Council session, UTA Project Manager GJ LaBonty presented the locally preferred alternative, selected through an extended public process where many options were considered, including light-rail, streetcar, rapid bus and vintage trolleys. "We're here tonight to tell you what we came up with," LaBonty said. "Streetcar and trolley were highly favored and met most of the needs." At the urging of community leaders in South Salt Lake and Salt Lake City, UTA pursued the study in hopes of tapping federal funds to help construct the project. Early on, stakeholders from the two cities outlined the corridor's transit needs: slow speeds, frequent stops, walkability, an urban linear park, creative funding, broad community support and integration with the larger area transit system. Response from two well-attended open houses conveyed public opposition to light-rail because of its faster speeds and fewer stops. Residents also objected to diesel-powered vehicles traveling through their backyards, LaBonty said. The often-congested, narrow 2100 South - which currently serves as a UTA bus route - also failed to meet the study's criteria in terms of pedestrian orientation and room for expansion, LaBonty said. But some in attendance Wednesday spoke out against the study's recommendations. "We were told it would be a rubber-tire mode on asphalt and now it's a metal wheel on rail," said Dick Stucki, who owns property next to the old rail line. Stucki asked the council to consider installing sound walls to preserve the peace and quiet of the neighborhood. Councilman Mike Rutter extolled the virtues of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which would cost only about $18 million to build. "I was very impressed by the rubber-tire system in Eugene [Oregon]," Rutter said, adding he had recently seen it first-hand. Council members voted to delay endorsing UTA's locally preferred alternative until the final draft of the study comes out next month. The Salt Lake City Council will need to sign on as well. If a mass-transit project has City Council support, it stands a better chance to compete for federal dollars, said David Carlson, city attorney for South Salt Lake. * For more information, visit UTA's Web site: