OGDEN -- Mayor Matthew Godfrey is questioning what he describes as a radically different proposal from Utah Transit Authority to build a streetcar system from downtown to Weber State University and McKay-Dee Hospital for $35 million less than originally projected.
"It (the figures from UTA) seemed to be picked out to make the numbers work," Godfrey told the city council during a work session Tuesday night, noting there isn't a lot of hard data to back up the new cost projections.
Godfrey has said he supports the notion of a streetcar system for Ogden, but contends the city can't afford to build it.
No UTA officials were present at the work session. However, Gerry Carpenter, a spokesman for UTA, said Tuesday before the meeting that he is unaware of any changes to UTA's proposal for the streetcar system.
Godfrey said he met last month with Mick Crandall, who is UTA's deputy chief for planning, and other UTA officials.
He said the UTA officials told him it may be possible to build the streetcar system for $125 million instead of the original projected cost of $160 million.
The officials offered no real explanation for the reduced cost other than to say nine streetcar stations could be built less expensively on street corners instead of raised platforms along the track, said Godfrey, adding that would probably save only about $1 million.
UTA officials also said at the meeting the project might be eligible for 70 percent federal funding instead of 50 percent, Godfrey told the council.
They also projected that annual operating costs for the system could possibly be reduced from $3.5 million to $2.7 million partly by reducing the frequency of streetcars from 15 minutes to 20 minutes, Godfrey said.
However, he added, the UTA officials did not provide any analysis showing how that might affect ridership and federal funding for the project.
Godfrey told the council that reducing the frequency of street car service by 25 percent will not lower operational costs by 30 percent.
Godfrey said he is also concerned that the proposal would require Weber State University to contribute an additional $1.2 million annually to its Eco Pass program, which subsidizes student and faculty travel on UTA vehicles. He also said no local matching funds are available for the street car system.
At the city council's request, a group of stakeholders in June agreed to temporarily stop work on the streetcar project so its consultant can review the project.
The council wants the streetcar to run from the Intermodal Hub on Wall Avenue up 23rd Street to Washington Boulevard, along Washington to 25th Street, up 25th to Harrison Boulevard and on to Weber State University and McKay-Dee Hospital,
However, a study spearheaded by Utah Transit Authority indicates the preferred route is from the Intermodal Hub along 23rd Street, to Washington Boulevard, along Washington to 36th Street to Harrison Boulevard and then to Weber State and McKay-Dee.
See what the Weber County Forum says: http://wcforum.blogspot.com/2011/10/standard-examiner-godfrey-bashes.html