OGDEN -- The city will submit a grant application today to the Federal Transit Administration for a proposed streetcar system, costing about $25 million, that would circulate downtown.
Mayor Matthew Godfrey briefed the city council on the application during a work session Tuesday night.
City officials only recently learned from the Utah Transit Authority that federal funding may be available for the streetcar line, and they have been rapidly preparing a grant application, he said.
The Weber Area Council of Governments (WACOG) would likely have to approve $5 million to $6 million in matching funds to secure an FTA allocation, said Godfrey.
Matching money would be derived from a one-quarter percent sales and use tax approved by Weber County voters in 2007, said Godfrey. The Weber Area Council of Governments may be asked to consider earmarking matching funds next month for the streetcar system.
Godfrey told the city council it's important that they support the FTA grant application. "It shows that council is onboard with the project and will help WACOG understand this is not a half-baked idea," he said.
City Councilwoman Susan Van Hooser said a downtown streetcar system is vital to helping with traffic congestion. "There is no place to put any more roads," she said. "We need to look at transportation for our citizens."
A downtown streetcar circulator is already listed on the Wasatch Front Regional Council's long-range transportation plan for the area, said Godfrey.
It could take months before the city learns from the FTA whether its grant application will be approved, and several more years to construct the streetcar system, said Godfrey.
The loop for the system would extend a little more than two miles and would include 12 stops for passengers.
The proposed route would begin at the Intermodal Hub at 23rd Street and Wall Avenue. It would then run up 23rd Street to Lincoln Avenue, along 25th Street to Washington Boulevard and then back along 20th Street, said Godfrey.
It would take about 12 minutes to complete the entire route. The system would be served by vintage streetcars that would run on biodiesel fuel similar to those that are successfully being used in Savannah, Ga., Godfrey said.
Godfrey estimated that as many as 300,000 passengers could ride the streetcar each year.
The downtown streetcar system would provide vitality to the east side of Washington Boulevard, which has struggled in recent years because of a lack of retail businesses, said Godfrey.
It could also complement efforts to construct a separate streetcar line from the Intermodal Hub to Weber State University and McKay-Dee Hospital Center, because both systems would use some of the same tracks downtown, said Godfrey.
Related link: This article is a topic of discussion at Weber County Forum.