Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Administration and Council Pass Joint Resolution to Fund Ogden Street Car Study

Sensible public transit moves to the Emerald City front-burner
Boss Godfrey is dragged along by the city council, kicking and screaming
Splendid news for public transit aficionados this morning, as the Standard Examiner reports that the mayoral administration and city council have entered into a joint resolution to fund Emerald City's long-awaited transit-alternatives analysis study and environmental impact review. From this morning's Scott Schwebke story:

OGDEN — The city council and city administration adopted a joint resolution Tuesday night to fund part of a $750,000 study that may lead to the establishment of a streetcar system along the busy downtown to Weber State University-McKay-Dee Hospital corridor.
The city’s share of the study that will include a transit-alternatives analysis and environmental impact review will be $290,000.
Funding would come from $231,250 in Utah Transit Authority federal money pledged for local transportation studies and $58,750 set aside in the city’s fiscal 2009 budget, said Bill Cook, the council’s executive director.
Boss Godfrey is quoted this morning as being "pleased the resolution has been adopted so the study can get under way. 'We are glad to see it move forward,'” Godfrey says.

As to the latter, we confess we have our doubts. Godfrey has stubbornly dragged his feet on the streetcar concept since the release of the 2005 Ogden Transit Corridor Study, and has made it painfully clear that an urban gondola is his preferred mode of "public transit." Not only that, we suspect that Mr. Godfrey is experiencing significant angst, as he watches the $231,250 in federal funding, which he secretly obtained for a "gondola study", as it's instead applied to a study involving street cars.

This morning's story also mentions three proposed streetcar routes, two of which have been proposed by the administration, and one of which is recommended by the council. As our gentle readers will recall, the council's preferred route is the same route recommended by the "Baker Study" in 2005.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' the Hat this morning to the Ogden City Council, for finally moving street cars to the top of the city agenda, notwithstanding the many roadblocks which Boss Godfrey has placed in the streetcar's path. Hopefully the city council will continue to keep Godfrey's feet to the fire, with respect to this very important Ogden City transit project. We have a strong sense that Boss Godfrey is being dragged kicking and screaming into this project, and that keeping this project moving along will require considerable continuing resolve on the council's part.

Comments are invited as always. There are plenty of issues to be discussed, such as the merit (if any) of Godfrey's objection to the council's preferred route, and his arguments in favor of the two with the more southerly east-west "connector legs."

Have at it, gentle readers.


Flat Top said...

In order for the rapid transit concept to work in the I-15 corridor in northern Utah, you need connector lines running east and west to get the people of Ogden to the train station. An east/west trolly or bus on the main streets will get people from their homes to the train station. This is a well proven concept in cities like Chicago and New York.

Curmudgeon said...

This is good news. It's two years later in coming than it should have, thanks to Hizzonah's desperate attempts over those years to protect his dreamed-of-flatland gondola route by dragging his feet on the streetcar study. And it seems he's still trying to push the streetcar route as far south as he can away from his preferred gondola corridor. But better late than never. Good news.

all gondolas, all the time said...

Not to worry, Godfrey has proven in past experience, that he will somehow derail the process, and shove the Gondola either down our throats, or up our assess.

Godfrey cant be trusted.

dan s. said...


Make that three years. Godfrey derailed the process in June 2005. Now it's finally back on track.

Curmudgeon said...


I hold no brief for the Godfrey administration, but I see little point in underestimating the importance of what has now happened. The joint study is not going to look at alternate means of [alleged] mass transit yet again... it's not going to be another gondola vs. streetcar study. Its focus is on which streetcar route would be the best. This is no small victory, however belated.

Curmudgeon said...


1. I stand corrected: three years, as you say.

2. In time, I may forgive you for the puns [derailed streetcar study back on track.] But it will take a while.

dan s. said...


"Derailed" is what Orwell would call a dead metaphor. It hardly counts.

polis said...

Since we are specifically talking about the streetcar route I don't know about the rest of you, but I sincerely hope that this study will look at more than just the 3 corridors mentioned in the article, otherwise this whole process will be flawed. The mayor's 2 choices are non-sense. The council's choice is okay, but I still think there have to be better options out there that have yet to be explored. Also, I'm curious to know why the mayor believes homes will have to be taken to further this project along Harridon Blvd, yet not along 36th St? Hopefully this study will be objective w/out the mayor's taint. I'm doubtful.

daps said...

Yes they should study going up 27th 28th 29th 31st 32nd 33rd and 34th too. Don't forget 20th 21st and 22nd. In fact, they should look at going down Quincy and Monroe and Jackson and Brinker. Or perhaps even a nice scenic route along side the River. Pick any street other than the Mayor's routes because it would be a total shame if he turned out to actually have chosen the best option. How would we live with ourselves? Oh yeah, how does one become a producer of such studies? $750k? I am in the wrong business.

polis said...


Study the mayor's routes, but also study routes that make long term sense for Ogden.

As for cost, I'm sure the study would have been much cheaper years ago if the mayor would have pulled his head out of Chris Peterson's a$$.

Dorrene Jeske said...

Here’s a “Heads Up.” Two items of public interest are on the agenda of the Council’s work meeting tomorrow night In case you missed the notice in the paper this morning, 1) the Administration will be presenting the Mayor’s proposal for a Veladrome/Tennis/Archery facility and 2) there is a proposal from the Planning Commission to approve the LandMarks Commission and the Planning Commission’s recommendation to increase the height of the Windsor Hotel on 25th St. to 45 feet.. It has taken three attempts to get this passed the Commission, and then it was approved with only a 5-3 vote.

Dorrene Jeske said...

The alternative analysis will use the 2005 study as a basis, will take into consideration the corridor recommendations from the City and ask for public input. There will be “open houses” and you will be asked to give your input on corridor, mode and station locations. Public input is very important in this process because it asks for what you will support. A recommendation will be based on all those factors for Ogden's transit system. Be sure you make it to at least one of the open houses.

dan s. said...

To those of you who have specific alignment suggestions, and other suggestions, for the transit corridor: You should soon have a chance to formally submit these suggestions. The next step is to hire a consultant to do the study. One of the consultant's first jobs will be to hold public "scoping" meetings at which any member of the public can comment on the scope of the project and the range of alternatives that should be considered.

polis said...

Thanks for the heads up Dorrene. Granting the owners 250k of city dollars wasn't enough? Now the owners want zoning changed to be allowed to fudge up a historic building on 25th Street for their grand condo units. Isn't the legendary Scott Brown working on this one? 25th Street is already losing its character that its well-known for, just look at the old building that was demolished last week. Why did it take so long for the Planning Commission to approve this? Just say NO to height increases along historic 25th Street!

polis said...

Thanks for the heads up Dorrene. Granting the owners 250k of city dollars wasn't enough? Now the owners want zoning changed to be allowed to fudge up a historic building on 25th Street for their grand condo units. Isn't the legendary Scott Brown working on this one? 25th Street is already losing its character that its well-known for, just look at the old building that was demolished last week. Why did it take so long for the Planning Commission to approve this? Just say NO to height increases along historic 25th Street!

polis said...

Thanks Dan and Dorrene for the info regarding the transit corridor. I definitely look forward to providing input and hopefully having a good dialogue regarding the route.

Curmudgeon said...


I think the height extension to permit addition of another floor was part of the original presentation the developer made to the city. Anyone else recall? Or this this an extension over and above [so to speak] the first one, permitting the addition of another floor?

polis said...

This may have been the original plan by the developer (I think it is actually), but was never formally approved (likely because it would require a variance in height, which is what the discussion appears to be about at tonight's meeting). I was just wondering why it took 3 attempts to get by the Planning Commission. Did the PC review the same project all three times or has the scope of the project changed?

Moroni McConkie said...

Dan S.: Didn't the 2005 transit study recommend 25th Street as the preferred east-west corridor? If so, how did it fade away in favor of 26th, 30th or (God forbid) 26th Street?

Moroni McConkie said...


Dan S.: Didn't the 2005 transit study recommend 25th Street as the preferred east-west corridor? If so, how did it fade away in favor of 26th, 30th or (God forbid) 36th Street?

Southsider said...

Love that 36th Street route. It ought to create a lot of development (and tax income) for South Ogden.

Thank you!

On the inside said...

Polis, I’d hardly call Scott Brown legendary. Infamous is more apropos. Scott Brown is one of the partners who own the Windsor Hotel. The Mayor had to stack the LandMarks Commission (which he did earlier this year over the objections of the Council) in order to get its approval on this project. Approval of the State Historic Preservation Office for the project wasn’t really obtained but by subterfuge, it appears to have happened. Exceptions to the Secretary Interior Standards for the Rehabilitation of historic buildings would have to be made, and the building could lose it designation on the National Register. This project sets a dangerous precedence and threatens the whole Historic District to lose it designation on the National Register. If other owners choose to add more height to their buildings, Ogden’s Historic District including 25th St., and Union Station could all loose their recognition as a National Landmark on the National Register. This would result in the loss of federal funds used to rejuvenate buildings on 25th St., and within the District. This would be a tragedy to stop this progress.

not every Republican is a Godfrey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dan s. said...


The main purpose of the 2005 study was to determine whether a major transit investment between downtown and WSU would be feasible and cost effective. The answer was a strong "yes".

Secondly, the study looked at a variety of alignments and found that the most desirable was Intermodal Hub up 23rd to Washington to 26th to Harrison to 4400 S. It was understood at the time that variations of a block in either direction might be at least as good or better.

I think it's reasonable to reopen the question of whether a more southerly alignment might be preferable. There may be good reasons to try to avoid the northern part of Harrison. The 2005 study actually rated 30th Street fairly high, but it was eliminated in part because it had just been torn up and widened and "those people had already been through enough". The study rated 36th Street quite low, but it considered only an alignment from Wall to 36th, not Washington to 36th.

My personal guess is that the 26th Street alignment really is the best and will come out on top when the more careful study is done. But there's enough uncertainty that it's worth taking another look to be sure.

WhatWardRUin said...

godfrey spends nearly three years doing everything he can to keep the street car studies from proceding while he continues to push the gondola. six months ago he told the world the gondola was his number one priority. are we to believe that he has suddenly had a change of heart? don't you bet on it. he is now pushing the street car study to be completed by next summer so he can "inluence the outcome of the study" (his words). he honestly believes he can steer the decision to a place where the street car is not feasible. his new alignment preferences won't generate enough new transit riders to make it federally fundable. Dan s., your suggestion to evaluate other routes is exactly what he is hoping for. the previous study looked at these same two new routes and they did not serve a transit dependent population nearly as much as the more central city alignments. he is also counting on udot making the harrison alignments ultra expensive for a street care but wait a minute; gondola towers don't have the same surface impact. why we can build a gondola for a fraction of the cost and impact as a street car. godfrey has not suddenly become a street car supporter. he has simply found a less direct way to get what he wants.

disgusted said...

whatwardruin is exactly correct. godfrey plans to show that a street car system is too expensive and the fall back will be his gondola. if i recall right bob geiger even came on the blog a couple of months ago an elluded to this point.
i hope the transit study also looks at bus-rapid transit in addition to street cars. i know alot of people here dont like the idea of bus-rapid transit but we should study it as an alternative.
other places in utah are starting to use brt and their experiences should be investigated.

danny said...

Regarding Dorrene's comment about the Windsor, here are the putative plans, in case others haven't seen them.

Click Here

To me, the key issue is: Do they have funding? This project seems remarkable for downtown Ogden.

I sense a need for a "partnership" with city financing is the developer's next step.

Hopefully someone with write up the meeting for us, including the velodrome.

(Hey, all the other crap didn't work, so we need a velodrome. Makes perfect sense, don't it?)

Curmudgeon said...


You wrote: I hope the transit study also looks at bus-rapid transit in addition to street cars. i know alot of people here dont like the idea of bus-rapid transit but we should study it as an alternative.

According to Councilwoman Jeske, the assessment will consider "modes" of mass transit, and since the initial study recommended trolleys as the best option, and BRT as the next best option, I imagine it will be looked at as well.

As to BRT: it works best carrying passages over substantial distances into central cities. I don't think it's particularly well designed for transit wholly within central city areas. But certainly worth a look.

Debbie Dew said...

I heard Godfrey say that he wouldn't have BRT in his city. We had better find a way to fund the street car or let Godfrey know that it's OUR city -- not just his!

disgusted said...

i beg to differ with you on brt. they can be operated in a very similar manner to that of a street car system. it can be put on a dedicated lane arrangement and street light system. it can be almost as effective as a street car system but not quite as sexy. godfrey doesnt want to entertain this type of system because it is second to the street car in efficency yet much less costly. its a definate mass transit system that is a far better value for the city than a gondola system.
if sufficient federal funding are available for a street car system then its a no brainer but if the funds are limited its a much better system for the city than a gondola.

Debbie Dew said...


I've seen some pretty sexy buses! They look like street cars -- a little more expensive than regular buses, but a whole lot cheaper than the real street car.

disgusted said...

relative to the windsor hotel the developer also owns another building near the hotel that they have been having problems selling out the development of. two high end condos over the top of a retail to be location. retail is unused and neither condo has been sold or developed.
people should look at the back and sides of the windsor hotel to realize how much work needs to be done on that building. at least half of the exterior of the building is wood siding and with most of the windows broken out you can only imagine what kind of condiition the floors/ceilings are in.
why would the council think that their variance of the building code make any difference. most of this building will need to be rebuilt and if the variance negitively effects the majority of the other properties on the street then the council needs to determine whether the benefit of the majority is more important that the desire of one developer. my question is when is the developer going to start working on the windsor building with the money that the city has already given them to do improvements or have they already spent that money on the other building.

disgusted said...

ive seen some pretty impressive brt systems. my point is that we shouldnt approach the solution with blinders on. street car first brt second gondola never. lets develop a real mass transit system.

Bill C. said...

Testing,1,2,3, stupidity at full bloom. Veladrome, including indoor archery. Has lying little matty just read Robinhood? Indoor circular bike track? Load up your bike in December and come down and ride around in circles, shoot some arrows and envision high adventure.
I can actually see his motivation to include tennis, it might help Gary Neilson compete with the racket club. Doesn't help Ogden any but does aid his favorite leotard merchant. I don't think it's crossed his mind that his beloved gondola, as mass transit, won't accomidate bicicles. And that people boarding any mass transit these days with bows and arrows would probably be seen as wackjob security threats or terrorists.
Winter bicicling and summer icecicle climbing, Orwellian.
Can the Council have the mayor sent out for a 90 day psychiatric evaluation? If they would even consider this Veladrome maybe they can get a group rate. Hell, maybe the whole city has gone insane. Is it just me?

Bill C. said...

I need to regretfully take some credit for the archery thing.
Last year during the election the OUST LYING LITTLE MATTY GONDOLA GODFREY T- shirts we made had a small Robinhood like hat adorning the pinnoccio enhanced photo of his foreheadedness. It was also used on the poster displayed in Bruce Edwards building on 25th st., the one with lying little matty asking Curt if he can go potty.It was still up last week, it sits opposite the police report of the wife slapping incident. Who'd a thought that image would inspire a humongous high adventure VELADROME total paid for and subsidized by tax dollars.
Maybe for a super high adventure twist it could be connected to the icecicle by ZIPLINE.
The only thing that doesn't fit into this super high adventure surge is the super duper high adventure horse trails, for a town that by ordinance allows no horses.

Where is the beef.... I mean Integrity said...

Wants a NEW mayor said...

Bill C.,

Don't you remember? Godfrey has been trying to use that city-owned property for several years for horses. Remember how he was willing to provide a horse stable to board and feed horses of the rich who would buy a Union Square condo? It looks like he hasn’t given up on having horses one way or another, although I doubt he knows how to ride one.

samiam said...

The Standard Examiner reported a while back that Ogden City has granted the developers almost $300,000 for this project!

samiam said...

bill c.
It is my understanding that there is only 1 indoor velodrome in the United States - and it is located in the West (Los Angeles). I assume there is only 1 in the US because they are very expensive and they meet the needs of a very narrow niche market. As much as I love cycling, this project is as questionable as it gets.

Curmudgeon said...


BRT from downtown to WSU seems to me not a good fit. First, it's a very short route, approx. 4 miles. The report I saw said it would cut travel time from Frontrunner to WSU very little... four minutes I think was the estimate. BRT can be effective carrying commuters rapidly into city centers over longer distances, and it can work in large cities where dedicated lanes and signal priorities make significant differences in time of travel. Those circumstances do not exist in Ogden. But, as I said, worth a look.

The other drawback of BRT is that it has not proven itself to be nearly as effective a generator of transit-related development as rail [light rail and/or streetcar]. The issue is long term reliability. Bus routes and stops can be moved. We've just seen a major change of routes in SLC. Sinking major money into a business development project or a residential project based on its proximity to bus travel can be very risky if the bus line is moved or a stop is eliminated or moved. But rail is seen as permanent. They're not going to lightly rip up the lines and move stations. Consequently development around rail transit stops has a proven record in many cities... large and mid sized... of generating millions [and, yes, billions] in transit oriented development. BRT does not.

But I've no objection to BRT being examined as an option over the downtown to WSU and McKay Dee route. It is after all a mass transit option. As the Mayor's silly flatland gondola tourist ride is not.

Southsider said...

re: velodrome

How about something like this:

Ray's MTB Indoor Park

An indoor MTB park in an old unheated warehouse, open October thru March. Much cheaper then a velodrome, and appealing to a much wider audience.

Of course Matty's won't be "The First."

Moroni McConkie said...

Dan S.: Thanks for the refresher on the 2005 study.

Cecil said...

To "wants a new mayor" (and who in Ogden besides his behind door buddies doesn't)

Of course the creep wants horses, what horse's ass doesn't?

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