Wednesday, May 16, 2012

STREETCAR GROUNDBREAKING

So, I went to the groundbreaking of the Sugar House Streetcar last week.  I didn't take any pictures, so I'll describe the scene for you:


A warm, sunny day.  A large group of people gathered on an empty lot, milling around, exchanging pleasantries.  Some of them are looking at the displays that have been put up about the new streetcar line.  Some of them are getting in the way of those who are trying to look at the displays.  Oops.  A small stage with a podium at the east edge of the crowd.  To the south, the skeletal remains of the old railroad tracks.  And in the middle of it all, one very attractive busninja, coolly contemplating the scene and plotting his next move . . .

United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood spoke, as well as several local officials and community members.  I recognized several faces from the Salt Lake County Republican Convention.  Secretary LaHood was impressed at the number of people that came.  He talked about "the next generation of transportation, for the next generation."  (He said it four times).  Everyone who spoke was enthusiastic about the amount of development and growth that was going to happen because of the streetcar; I heard the phrase "development-oriented transit" coined. 

I also heard that around $400 million has already been pledged by local and other interests along the streetcar line before the groundbreaking, meaning that the theoretical streetcar has already drawn a promised over-ten-to-one return on investment.  I'd love to know how much the actual streetcar will end up bringing in.  Also, I found out that a streetcar has been on the books in Sugar House since 1985.  Interesting.

The "groundbreaking" consisted of pulling up some of the old railroad tracks, as a symbolic sort of "out-with-the-old" gesture.  Construction of the streetcar line is supposed to finish up next year(!).

I hope when it opens you'll all join me in taking a ride on the Sugar House Streetcar.  Go to dinner.  Shop for books.  Stroll down the trail.  Have a fun time.  I know I will.

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