Not everyone on board with proposal to extend streetcar in Sugar House

Posted at 10:03 PM, May 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-29 00:03:16-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Salt Lake City Council is seeking federal grant money in order to extend the Sugar House Streetcar to one of the area's busiest intersections.

On Tuesday night, city council members submitted an application for the federal Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery grant, which would extend the "S" Line from its current end at Sugarmont Drive, east to Highland Drive, then north to 2100 South.

The grant is worth $10.6 million. If approved, the city would have to put in $3.1 million of its own money.

The extension only consists of a few blocks, but officials with the city said it will make a huge difference due to visibility. They would expect ridership to increase by hundreds per day.

"You cannot see the current end of the line, and that really drives people's ability to know that it's there and taking that train," said Robin Hutcheson, who is the Salt Lake City Transportation Director.

Business owners in the area have mixed reaction.

"There is 10,000 cars driving through here a day, a streetcar is going to even slow that down even more, this is a very narrow street," said Eliza James of Boxing Is For Girls, which is located along the proposed route. "If you live and work on this street you would know how it functions, this is the wrong place for it."

Under the proposal, Highland Drive would be cut down from four lanes to three lanes. It's a concern for Sterling Furniture.

"If our customers can't get in and out it will have an effect on our business," Mark Williamson said.

City officials said the project will make the community more walkable and bikable. Bekke Robb of One World Gifts said the more people passing her store, the better.

"I think it's an awesome idea," Robb said. "I really like the idea of having that kind of environment, the public transportation, the walkable areas."

It's been suggested by some council members that Sugar House businesses help pitch in any extra costs.

"I'm sure we would consider it because we are all about community, that's what we support," Robb said.

The city expects to hear whether or not the grant is approved sometime this fall. Construction would then begin next summer.