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Council Disagrees on Final Destination for Streetcar

The Salt Lake City Council is clashing over where the Sugar House Streetcar will end. The council debated several options last night during a scheduled work session. 

The sticking point is whether the Streetcar should travel further up the east bench or turn a corner and head north toward the 400 south TRAX line. The first section of the line is slated to open at year’s end.  It will run east from the 2100 south TRAX station to 1050 east. There is a general consensus that the next phase of the project will connect that line to Highland drive. But where it goes from there is the point of contention.

“Getting it through the Shopko block is very important," Councilman Soren Simonsen says. "Getting it to Sugar House Park is really important."

Simonsen wants the line to continue east from Highland Drive.  He says the shopping center just west of Sugar House Park and the park itself are prime destinations for his east bench neighbors.

“Potentially tying it to a network of transit around the city that serves the city well is really important," Simonsen adds.

But a consulting firm the city hired chose 1100 east as the best route. Robin Hutcheson is the city’s transportation director. She says heading north on 1100 east to 1700 south near Westminster College is ideal for a number of reasons.

"A higher number of people would ride it on a per mile basis," Hutcheson says. "Lower cost per mile to construct it. It would serve and support some upcoming development and it has some future implications for connections to the regional transit system.”

Hutcheson says the study did not consider Sugar House Park to be a good destination for the street car because ridership to parks isn’t consistent.

Councilwoman Jill Remington Love agreed with the consulting firm, saying routing the streetcar north makes more sense for the entire transportation system.

“What are we trying to build here? We’re trying to build a transit system for our city," Love says. "If it goes to 17th south eventually we’re 13 blocks away from connecting the systems. We can’t ignore that.”

Others prefer a route that heads north along Highland Drive and then turns east up 2100 South to 1700 East.

After a heated work session, council members were unable to reach an agreement on where the proposed line should terminate. The next public hearing for the project will be in April. 

The street car is a joint project between Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake.

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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