To kick off this morning's discussion we'll focus on today's Scott Schwebke story, which reports, straight out of the blue, that Ogden City (read the Godfrey administration) is whipping up a last-munute federal grant application, to help fund a "downtown streetcar loop." Here's Mr. Schwebke's lede:
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.That's right, folks; the Godfrey administration is planning to submit its application today; and it only informed the council about this last night.
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 story goes on to report that such a grant would require the application of matching local funds, presumably derived from a one-quarter percent sales and use tax approved by Weber County voters in 2007. Notably, Boss Godfrey apparently hasn't yet informed the local governing body which administers this special tax, the Weber Area Council of Governments (WACOG), about this grant application either.
And this is interesting:
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, [Emphasis added]Frankly we don't know what to make of Boss Godfrey's proposed downtown streetcar loop. All we know about it is what we read in this morning's paper. Nevertheless it seems to us that there needs to be further public discussion about this proposed project, before the council or anyone else "gets onboard." Although Godfrey contends that such a system would be "complementary" to a genuine Intermodal Hub/McKay-Dee streetcar route, we don't know whether that's true at all. As a matter of fact we can well imagine a scenario whereby the awarding of this grant by the FTA could jeopardise future funding for a future east-west 25th streetcar corridor, which would traverse at least part of the downtown area already covered by this proposed downtown loop.
Don't get us wrong on this, gentle readers. We're not ready at this stage of the game to dismiss this idea off-hand. Nevertheless, given the meager information provided in this morning's story, Boss Godfrey's embryonic downtown loop proposal strikes us at present as not merely half-baked, but perhaps -- dare we say -- half-assed.
So how about it gentle readers? Seems to us it's now time for some robust discussion. Is the submission of a federal grant application for this downtown route a smart move at this time, in the big picture? There are numerous WCF readers who've demonstrated here in this forum a highly-specialized knowledge on the topic of urban streetcar systems... and of the intricacies of the financing of them too. Perhaps some of you folks with extra expertise on this subject will step up in our lower comments section, to enlighten us all on the true ramifications of this new "surprise" development.
Have at it, O Gentle Ones.