In what will most likely not be a weekly feature, here’s my favorite first pitch from the pages of this week’s SLC dailies:
A slow-sliding streetcar connecting Sugar House with TRAX could be ferrying passengers in three years, and the line eventually may swing north to Westminster College and the University of Utah.
This Lede of the Week comes from Derek P. Jensen’s (SL Trib) story on the slated project to build a streetcar line from the Central Pointe Trax Station to the Craig Mecham’s hole in the ground, otherwise known as the Granite Block Development (Sugar House).
For full disclosure, I am a rail transit fan (whether it be FrontRunner or the SugarHouse StreetCar), so the subject matter made Jensen’s hook that more enticing. The kicker, though, is the latter half of the lead sentence: “the line eventually may swing north to Westminster College and the University of Utah.”
Light rail connecting the U to Sugar House (and possibly beyond) has always been a dream of mine. The fact that it’s being talked about (the Trib attributed SLC Councilman Soren Simonsen to the notion) warms my heart. Rail transit (specifically to the U) has proven successful (according to a Lede of the Week semi-scientific survey) and more rail transit lines should help alleviate traffic.
Plus, a street car going to the U could prove to be beneficial in accomplishing the goals set out by the University’s Campus Master Plan. Right now, the plan calls for HPER Highway and the path connecting the Business buildings to the Union — both pedestrian thoroughfares through campus — to be open to shuttle traffic. Now I know I don’t speak for everyone, but when I smell the diesel spewing from those things, I sometimes throw up in my mouth. And, I don’t know how conducive the roar of a Mercedes 900 horsepower engine will be for those trying to learn at both OSH and LNCO (proposed thoroughfares would make the south end of those two buildings a busy intersection for shuttles).
A streetcar on the other hand, doesn’t stink (provided it’s electric), is quieter, and (call me a transit elitist) seems cleaner than the bus, I mean shuttle. Who knows. Maybe a U streetcar cutting through campus on its way to a bustling 9th and 9th and renovated Sugar House (don’t hold your breath), as well as light rail to a burgeoning downtown (you’re in my prayers, Downtown Rising) will not only make life easier for U commuters but may also attract top minds — both faculty and students — that don’t like the idea of having to drive everywhere.