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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Salt Lake City Downtown Streetcar Route

Thought I'd push this up for broader public consumption:

I'm confused and not a little displeased by the routing in Phase 1. Specifically, by the bizarre 'jag' at 450/500 West. A quick inspection of the aerial image furnishes the reason why: There is a historic railroad station in the way.

But why detour down to 300 South at all? The initial proposed routes were much more direct.

I expect the land uses as 300 S. were too much of a temptation to avoid. There is large hotel and quite a few restaurants one the street. When building a streetcar line, the urge to connect ALL the 'dots' can be overwhelming. Going under the station had previously been discussed, but the FTA has specifically inveighed against tunnels in the Small Starts instructions. Tunnels tend to be vastly more expensive, even without the consideration of the difficulty of building a tunnel underneath a historic structure.

All said, I am opposed to that part of the alignment. TRAX is already located along 200 South. Building a second high capacity transit line within a block the the existing one smacks of hubris. The FTA will never fund it, and without Federal funding, it will never get built. Far better to make use of all the existing TRAX track along 200 S.

The rest of the alignment seems reasonable. It will pass directly by the Salt Palace convention center, the US Bank building on Main Street, Gallivan Center, the Marriott Hotel, and there are two major office towers at 250 East and 200 South.

The '2 the U' bus on 200 S. has excellent ridership, carrying riders from FrontRunner and TRAX to an area just sufficiently far enough from TRAX to be inconvenient. Hopefully, the stop spacing is done properly, so that the stations lay between TRAX stations and not directly parallel to them. That will reduce competition with TRAX for riders.

Assume the existing TRAX station at 500 W. is used. That puts the next station between 200 and 300 West. Probably closer to 300 West, because the Salt Palace will certainly have one on their doorstep, on 100 West Street. I'd expect one at Gallivan as well--there are some very tall buildings there, and it would facilitate the transfer to TRAX. That would put the next stop at 200 East, where the alignment turns. I'd lay money they put the station after the turn, putting the final station on the South side of 100 South, just east of the Questar Gas office tower.