Sugar House Streetcar keeps Salt Lake City moving forward
For the first time in half a century, streetcars have returned to Salt Lake City’s historic Sugar House neighborhood.
Even before the new S-Line began operating last week, the project had already done wonders for the city’s bottom line—jump-starting roughly $400 million in economic development that’s completed or underway, including hundreds of new apartments. That’s what transit-oriented development is all about: bringing access to housing, transit, and jobs together in a way that makes sense for how families, young professionals, seniors, and others want to live today.
I was very glad to be on hand last week to experience the latest demonstration of a national streetcar renaissance. DOT provided $26 million to help build the S-Line in the form of a grant from our TIGER program, one of our most sought-after and most competitive funding initiatives. It’s a smart investment that will make a real difference in the lives of Salt Lake City area residents.
With the return of the streetcar, the Sugar House neighborhood – already known for its character and walkability -- has put in place all of the ingredients for growth. As a bonus, the rail line will be surrounded by new parkland that will add greenery and walking and biking trails along what used to be a barren commercial railway.
The project brings other environmental benefits as well, as it’s estimated to save more than one million gallons of fuel and reduce carbon emissions by 26,000 tons over the next 20 years.
In addition to the many benefits the S-Line brings to the Sugar House neighborhood, it is also part of something larger. The new line connects directly to the region’s light rail system, giving residents better access to over 130 miles of existing and planned rail service across the Wasatch Front. That makes the S-Line part of one of the most ambitious regional transportation initiatives in the country.
DOT has committed $570 Million to help the Utah Transit Authority add 70 miles of regional commuter and light rail service by 2015, connecting people to jobs, easing congestion, and keeping the air clear. As a result, working families can spend less time stuck in traffic and less money at the pump, and the Salt Lake region is poised for continued growth.
That's the value of public transportation.
Peter Rogoff is Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.