Ogden Transit Project talk revving up

Apr 11 2013 - 8:52am

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OGDEN -- After a long period of inactivity, discussion on the possible Ogden streetcar is heating up again.

Officials from Utah Transit Authority, Wasatch Front Regional Council and Utah Department of Transportation participated in an Ogden City Council work session Tuesday night, discussing the future of the Ogden Transit Project.

The project aims to provide high-quality transit between Ogden's downtown and Weber State University and could result in a streetcar system.

The proposed project has been around for years -- it first showed up on the WFRC's Regional Transportation Plan in the 1990s -- but discussions quieted after a draft report analyzing possible alternatives for the project was released in 2011.

The last time the project was given any meaningful public discussion was in January 2012, when the city council held a fact-finding work session to discuss the viability of the streetcar option.

But UTA officials say an additional study is needed and if the city wants to move forward with the project, the time to do it is now.

Hal Johnson, project development manager at UTA said that in order to move forward, the project's cost, projected ridership, alignment and mode will all have to be identified.

UTA estimates a study to do those things would cost $745,000. UTA, Ogden city and UDOT would all contribute to the study.

"The purpose of (the study) is to really make a business case for this," Johnson said. "But ultimately we want to see a grand opening of some kind. That's always the most exciting thing."

Ogden City Council Executive Director Bill Cook said money is needed from the Weber Area Council of Governments to help fund a portion of the study.

Cook said requests for the next round of WACOG funding are due by June 3. He said a joint resolution between the city administration and the council, indicating the city's intention to move forward with the study, would need to be adopted by May 21.

"The city needs to step forward and commit," Cook said. "That's an important move."

Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said the city is looking to find out the cost-per-mile difference between a streetcar and a modified Bus Rapid Transit system, which has also been discussed as a potential outcome.

"We're trying to find out what system will serve the most people and what will provide the biggest economic benefit for Ogden," he said.

Caldwell said whatever the outcome may be, the need to develop a transit corridor to WSU is not just an Ogden city need, it's a regional need.

"There so many people tied to Weber State," the mayor said. "And they aren't all just living in Ogden."

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