Sunday, June 20, 2010

Important Streetcar Update: Major Setback In the Effort to Revitalize the City of Ogden and the Trolley District

It's time, we think, for the citizens and their City Council to "pull rank" on this, and get the Ogden Streetcar Project back "on track."

By Shalae Larsen
via The Historic Trolley District

Dear Trolley District Neighbors,

It is with great frustration and disappointment that I am writing to you today. We have suffered a major setback in our efforts to revitalize the city of Ogden and the Trolley District, with the promise of restoring urban rail transit. The “Stakeholder” group that met yesterday (6/156/10), voted to move into the next phase of project development with the Washington-36th street alignment, also including “some language” about considering Washington-30th Street as a possible alternative. While we are disappointed in this outcome, it is not unexpected for two reasons: 1. UTA has clearly had a 36th Street outcome planned since the beginning of this process and has imposed this bias in all of the reports and meetings that have been held to date. And 2. UTA selected a “Stakeholder” committee that largely defies the definition of what a Stakeholder is...aside from our two Council Members and Mayor none of the stakeholders live in any proximity to the proposed streetcar, will likely never ride it, and have no direct-relationship to the effects of their decision in this matter.

We at the Trolley District are seriously disappointed in UTA’s continued disregard for the public that it is appointed to serve. Even after meeting with our group and agreeing to a compromise of taking both the 36th street and the 25th street alignments into the next phase of project development, UTA in bad faith did not see this commitment through. This outcome is just another example in a recent string of corruption and poor decision making on the part of a bureaucracy that is clearly out of control!

Now we must prepare for the upcoming community meeting where UTA expects to present their findings and receive public feedback as part of the formal public process. We know that UTA sees this as a mere formality, but we need to show them that the public is invested in the future of our community! Please contact your city council person and tell them how you feel about streetcars, and ask them to look at a long-range plan for Harrison Boulevard so that this corridor does not become a 7-lane highway. And, plan on being out if full force at the public comment meeting! We have not heard the details yet on the time and place of the meeting, but we will let you know as soon as we hear anything!

Thank you for your continued support!

The Trolley District

Editor's addendum: Ms. Larsen suggests that proponents of a 25th Street east-west streetcar corridor alignment contact their city council representatives to express your own viewpoints. As we've pointed out before, the Ogden City Council will have the final call on this, regardless of the machinations of UTA and UDOT bureuacrats. Ultimately, the Ogden City Council will have to make a final decision, and so we believe it's time to urge the city council to get moving on this, to hold its own public hearing (if necessary) and then inform Utah transportation agency bureaucrats that a 36th street leg is a non-starter, and that the prospect of of turning Harrison Boulevard into a seven-lane superhighway is an alternative which is entirely unacceptable to the lumpencitizens of Ogden.

In that connection, here's our WCF council contact link:
Contact Local Officials
There's been far too much time and energy misdirected by Utah bureaucrats to the WRONG Ogden streetcar plan. It's time, we think, for the citizens and their City Council to "pull rank" on this, and get the Ogden Streetcar Project back "on track.

Update 6/20/10 12:07 p.m.: And one more thing. Trolley District News is also calling for a "letters to the editors campaign":
Standard Examiner Article - We ask what is the REAL cost?
Let's roll up our sleeves O Gentle Ones... and get it done.

6 comments:

Curmudgeon said...

Looks to me like UTA wants the trolley route selected to suit its convenience, not the convenience of the largest number of potential riders.

And nice catch by SL on the slipping reasonable definition of "stakeholders" in this matter.

Danny said...

I really have a hard time with this - one of the few issues that I cannot lean on fundamentals to make.

1. Washington 36th makes sense for revitalization of Washington. And it keeps the trolley from reducing lanes on Harrison which would make that street even more crowded. Plus, it makes a Riverdale spur easier.

2. Having the trolley run down Harrison and 25th would give lot more residents access to it. It would make it easier to go to SLC than driving to the Frontrunner station. Our kids could go to the U without a car and could come all the way home in many cases without one. It would also be an easier way to go to downtown Ogden than in a car, for the many who would live near the line.

My only way to decide is to see what Godfrey wants, and use the probability that he is right to choose the opposite.

There you go said...

Danny-

Godfrey initiated the 36th Street idea.

Dorrene Jeske said...

Danny,

Your arguements make a lot of sense, but we need to look at the purpose of the streetcar for this first corridor. I have attended the Rail-volution conferences in San Francisco and Boston and have seen what can be accomplished when a streetcar corridor is planned and developed according to the plan. In fact one suburb of Boston, did not push the economic development benefit of mass transit and now is scrambling like crazy to catch up with suburbs along the streetcar corridor who did and are in a much better financial condtion.

Since Ogden is definitely interested in economic development to the point that the administration is willing to replace priceless open space with condos and a sports hotel, we should consider which corridor has more economic development potential. Also, the purpose of the streetcar is to move people, and I believe that 25th St. would provide more customers.

Efforts are being made to revitalize the neighborhoods where the streetcar would run using the 25th St. corridor. There are several destinations along the 25th St. corridor that would provide ridership which is key to the success of the streetcar. There is more room for economic development that would definitely help revitalize that part of the city.

My feeling is that the Washington corridor should be developed when we have Riverdale and North Ogden on board to help pay for the cost of the installation and maintenance of the Washington corridor. It doesn't make sense for Ogden to build the line alone when both those cities will benefit from it also. Also, I understand that South Ogden is not in financial condition to help with the cost of building the track up
36th St. Why should Ogden taxpayers foot the bill for the track so that So. Ogden can share in the revenue and economic development?

UTA has ignored the process recommended for the alternative analysis process, and should be taken to task for not following it. They were to hold at least three public hearings, and their decisions were to weigh heavily the input from them. The public has at the hearing very resoundedly indicated the 25th St. corridor, which Godfrey and UTA have ignored. The reason Godfrey wants the streetcar to go up 36th St. is so that it will service the condos that he intends to build at the top of 36th St. Also, he still plans to have the gondola run up
23rd St. (the property on the nw corner of 23rd and Harrison has been purchased for a gondola station), and then along Harrison. Just because he has said nothing for a while about the gondola, doesn't mean that the issue is dead. It is still the administration's number 1 goal.

I wish to thank Shalae for all the hours and energy that she has put into the streetcar project. The citizens have up to the plate on this and demand that the alternative analysis process is followed and not let Godfrey bully everyone and control this process.

My Two Bits said...

I think our transit stakeholders and UTA consultants are a little too satisfied with their own expertise. They are not as open-minded and creative and flexible as we all need to be if Ogden is going to have some kind of transit system.
What systems are less costly? What is working elsewhere? The best new ideas usually don't always come from the establishment; the place that has been providing the old answers (UTA and their consultants).
What about Bus Rapid Transit? BRT was pioneered by creative but poor South American cities that desperately needed mass transit but couldn't afford the traditional super-expensive transit answers.

Knows What's Up said...

The council has a lot more power in this process than they realize. The fact is that this study was undertaken because the council initiated the process, and the city of Ogden funded a portion of the study. It will require City Council initiative to move into another phase (another study) of the project. But, most importantly the Council needs to take a leadership role in planning for the future of Transportation in Ogden. Part of why we’re in the position that we’re in, is that our community plans lack any clear direction for Harrison Boulevard. We need to engage in a city wide study on the future of this corridor, this would allow us to make decisions about where transit should go, and allow us to put in place appropriate zoning to encourage TOD (Transit Oriented Development). Because of the fact that our city has a lack of this type of planning – especially for Harrison – UTA and UDOT can do whatever they want. They’re asking us to tell them what we want by planning and zoning for it!

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