Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sugarhouse Update

Last year we posted on the Sugarhouse Trolley in Salt Lake City. Since I'm going to Salt Lake tomorrow, I thought this update from the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News was appropriate.

What's interesting is that in order to keep costs down, they are going with a single track leaving the option for double track on the abandoned rail ROW between the closest Trax Station and the Sugarhouse district, a denser part of the city. In addition to this gem, there was a hint that mayors would be pushing congress to streamline the funding process for streetcar lines with Salt Lake Mayor Becker taking the charge.

In two weeks, Becker plans to sponsor a resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Providence, R.I., calling on Congress to streamline the funding process for streetcars nationwide. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, already has placed a cash request for the Sugar House project.

"We're hoping," Becker said, "that Congress will accelerate the investments."

Recently Congressman Blumenaeur wrote a letter to Secretary LaHood asking for smaller investments to be made in ready to go streetcar projects around the country. In addition to Boise, I imagine the small Sugarhouse project would be one of the many that could apply for the proposed $25 million grant that would be requested.

Next week, Crapo and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., will send a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asking him to designate $300 million in federal stimulus money for streetcar projects like Boise's.
Below is the alternatives analysis map from UTA showing potential development projects on the corridor as well as possible places for crossover sidings where streetcars will be able to pass on the single track.

What will be interesting to see is if they can keep in the $50 million target for the two mile route. If they do, it will hopefully push others to try and keep costs low.

H/T Ed Havens


Bob Davis said...

For years, some transit critics have written about "overbuilt" supposedly "light" rail systems, saying that track for 40-ton LRV's can be built for less than track that carries coal trains, and that some "light rail" overhead resembles that of the Pennsylvania RR. One of the reasons why San Diego was able to lead the US into the modern light rail era was that it was built with a very cost-conscious attitude, unlike some more recent construction that has drawn accusations of "gold plated" designs. If "Sugarhouse" can point the way toward a more frugal design, that can be upgraded later, it could help continue the spread of electric railway lines.

Anonymous said...

Track wise this should be less the $5 million a mile.

Matt Fisher said...

Won't they be leaving a provision for double track, like in Sacramento and San Diego when they opened light rail? This sounds quite inexpensive. I suppose most of the consultants who are designing light rail these days appear to have inadequate experience. And that leads critics to accuse it of being "gold plated". :)

And now that I'm back in Ottawa from Toronto yesterday, while you arrived in Salt Lake City, it appears Boise will be getting its streetcar after all.