OGDEN -- The likelihood of securing federal funding remains one of the biggest issues in bringing a streetcar system to Ogden.
At a special work session held after Tuesday night's Ogden City Council meeting, an independent consultant hired by the city said while the federal funding landscape is unpredictable, the Ogden project would stack up well against other projects around the nation competing for the same funding.
GB Arrington, a consultant who works for PB PlaceMaking Inc., based in Portland, Ore., was hired by Ogden in June and has spent the past several months trying to determine the viability of federal funding for the project that would link downtown Ogden, Weber State University and McKay-Dee Hospital.
With a cost estimate of $160 million, the project won't be cheap, so federal funds are vital.
Former Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey abandoned the idea of a streetcar system because of the high price.
According to Arrington's report, the Ogden streetcar "appears to have sufficient technical merit to compete against other projects in the federal process."
Arrington cites the Ogden streetcar's forecasted ridership of 3,830 riders per day and the characteristics of its corridor connecting FrontRunner, downtown Ogden, WSU and McKay-Dee as reasons the project would hold up well.
The project also has the advantage of drawing on Utah Transit Authority's strong track record of success in securing federal transit funding and delivering rail projects on time and on budget, Arrington said.
He told the city council that the best way for the city to move forward is to pursue multiple federal fund tracks.
Arrington also said it's critical that project design and environmental clearances be completed and that a solid consensus is formed around a preferred alternative for the streetcar's route.
A viable local funding plan needs to be developed, he said.
"The best advice is to get (the project) ready to go so that, when the opportunity presents itself in Washington, you can move."
Bruce Cardon, UTA's regional general manager, also addressed the city council and echoed sentiments very similar to those of Arrington.
Cardon said while steps to obtain federal funding are already established, a local funding strategy needs to be determined and coordinated with stakeholders.