This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Sugar House Streetcar extension isn't coming any time soon.
The Salt Lake City Council scrum earlier this month that ended in a split 4-3 vote to fund a federal matching grant for the Sugar House Streetcar was apparently all for naught.
City Hall confirmed Friday that its application for a federal transportation "TIGER" grant that would have extended the so-called S-Line to the intersection at 2100 South and Highland Drive failed to be approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The agency authorized $600 million in grants for 72 projects nationwide.
Although the administration of Mayor Ralph Becker was aware of the unsuccessful bid, the news caught council members off guard Friday afternoon.
"Without that money, we don't have the resources to extend it," said Chairman Charlie Luke. "We don't have the resources to go it alone."
For now, the east terminus of the S Line will remain tucked out of sight of Highland Drive and the Sugar House business district behind the old Granite Furniture warehouse.
The line runs west from there along an old freight rail line to the TRAX Central Pointe Station at 2100 South and 200 West. Since its debut in December it has drawn only about one-third of predicted ridership.
On Sept. 2, the council voted to add $3 million to a previously allocated $1.5 million. That $4.5 million was the local match for $10.6 million in federal funds.
Councilman Kyle LaMalfa, who voted in favor of funding, said that it is necessary to extend the streetcar line east several hundred yards to Highland Drive where people can see it.
"I think it important that the streetcar play a prominent and visible role in Sugar House," he said. "I would be disappointed if we didn't get it to Highland Drive."
Funding the streetcar will be an ongoing effort, said Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall, who also voted in favor of funding.
"This is not a nail in the coffin," she said. "The city applied several times for a TIGER grant [before receiving funding for the S Line] the last time."
Mendenhall said she hopes the lack of funding now doesn't lead to another debate about the Sugar House streetcar.
"I think the transit master plan [due out in about a year] will show the streetcar should run to 2100 South and Highland," she said.
By contrast, Councilwoman Lisa Adams, who voted against the funding, said she's not disappointed the city didn't win the grant.
"Obviously, I didn't want it. I don't think it's in the right place," she said. Adams did acknowledge, however, that the S Line should have been routed to 2100 South and Highland Drive in the first place.
At this point, however, Adams said she favors a Sugar House circulator bus over more rail.
That's an opinion shared by Sugar House resident George Chapman.
"I'm happy they didn't get it because we don't need more projects, we need more service," he said. "We need more bus lines and they need to run them more often."
At the Boxing Is For Girls gym and fitness center, 1983 S. 1100 East, Lori Leighton was ecstatic with the news.
"I'm like, damn, that's so outstanding," she said. "For now it's not going to the [Sugar House] monument and it's not going down 1100 East. I love it. I'm really relieved about it."