Mayor grilled about Ogden streetcar

Mar 1 2010 - 11:38pm

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Godfrey
Godfrey

OGDEN -- Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey was grilled about a potential downtown streetcar system at the Weber Area Council of Governments meeting.

Godfrey came back to WACOG Monday to answer more questions about the project after last month's meeting, although he said he was not asking for the group to vote on whether to approve funds.

Ogden has a pretty small chance of getting a $21.4 Federal Transit Administration grant for the downtown streetcar circulator, he said, so if the city got the money he would then come back to get funding approval.

WACOG would have to approve the estimated $5.1 mil- lion in matching funds, obtained from a quarter-cent sales tax approved by Weber voters in 2007.

They also would have to approve between $750,000 and $1 million a year in maintenance fees for the streetcar route.

Those numbers worried Weber County Commissioner Ken Bischoff. He said WACOG has been more focused on a long-term streetcar project connecting downtown Ogden with Weber State University and McKay-Dee Hospital Center.

"Going out 10 years, we've got $10 million less in funding to build the route to the hospital," he said, referring to the ongoing maintenance costs that would be coming from the transportation tax money.

Godfrey agreed, but said he thought the maintenance costs would be lower than projected and added that by doing the small project first, more than $3 million would be saved when doing the larger project.

He said the $3 million would be saved because a maintenance building is already built into the costs of the smaller 2.2-mile, one-way loop from the intermodal hub around downtown. He said with the downtown circulator the federal government would also pay a larger share of the costs.

Commissioner Jan Zogmaister said she doesn't agree with the Mayor's numbers. She said she also was concerned that because the downtown streetcar would be different from the one on the university route, they wouldn't be able to share maintenance space and costs.

"It just doesn't make sense how we could build more (track) and save $3 million," she said.

West Haven Mayor Brian Melaney said he wasn't sure his city's residents would approve of spending such a large portion of the tax money on a downtown Ogden project.

WACOG has been thinking about the Weber State line for a long time, said Chairman Bruce Burrows, Riverdale mayor. He said the prospect of committing the money to a newly proposed project is something the group would have to think about much more.

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