Monday, December 23, 2013

FTA gives nod to St. Louis Loop Trolley

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Plans for heritage trolley service in St. Louis' Delmar Loop, dogged by lawsuits and delays throughout 2013, have been given preliminary approval by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

And the purchase of two GOMACO-built vintage trolleys this month from Portland's TriMet for $80,000 gives the project equipment to begin such service following construction, now tentatively set to begin next year.

"It is apparent that significant progress has been made in addressing the project management deficiencies that heretofore hampered the project's delivery," FTA Region 7 Administrator Mokhtee Ahmad wrote to project organizers Dec. 16, 2013.

The Loop Trolley route would include nine stations, connecting with two Metrolink light rail transit (LRT) stops at Forest Park and Delmar Loop stations.

FTA earlier this year had expressed concerns that backers of the proposed 2.2-mile line had failed to make enough progress on the project, placing $22.1 million out of roughly $25 million in federal funds at risk. The addition of Metro engineering staff "dramatically improved project management generally," Ahmad wrote.

Project supporters last fall met an FTA deadline to submit required documentation for the project.

Some minor conditions must still be met, but Chris Poehler, district administrator of the Loop Trolley Transportation District, told local media those details can be addressed shortly without undue disruption.