(KCPW News) Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker will introduce a resolution to the U.S. Conference of Mayors next month promoting the reintroduction of streetcars and urging Congress to expedite federal funding for stalled streetcar projects. But Becker says the city hasn't decided whether to use federal funds for the proposed sugar House streetcar line.
"If the federal government decides to both free up the funding that it has for this project, make more funding available and really look at how it's processes can enable streetcars, rather than serve as an obstacle, the federal process could work in our favor," Becker says. "But really the, sort of the crux of the next decision for us is: Do we just want to move forward with local funding?"
The Sugar House streetcar line will cost about $40 to $50 million, up to 50 percent of that could be paid for with federal funds. But Becker says this could push back the anticipated date of completion, currently estimated at three years away.
Sugar House resident Daphne Perry stopped her bike to listen in on this morning's press conference at what could soon be the terminal stop of the streetcar line. She says her backyard abuts the rail corridor, and she's concerned about noise and her property values. Keith Bartholomew, an urban planner and the city's representative on the UTA board told her not to worry.
"Nationally, the effects of rail transit on property values is not only positive, but it's substantially positive. It is seen as being an amenity by people in the market, both on the commercial and the residential side," Bartholomew says. "And so, my advise to you is to sit tight, and you might think of this as your alternative 401K."
And as for noise, he told her that the streetcar is noisy, but would also reduce some of the traffic in her neighborhood. The streetcar line is a joint project of Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake and the Utah Transit Authority. Becker says the partners are currently investigating several options for funding the project, which could include a bond.