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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

St. Louis Loop Trolley in jeopardy

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St. Louis Loop Trolley in jeopardy Loop Trolley Co.

One of two streetcar projects in St. Louis, bolstered by a pledge of $22 million in federal funds, could still fall through if plans aren't finalized by next month.

The Loop Trolley, a 2.2-mile line with an estimated cost of $44 million, would link University City, Mo., and the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, west of downtown St. Louis, using historic "replica" streetcar design. The proposed route would include nine stations, connecting with two Metrolink light rail transit (LRT) stops at Forest Park and Delmar.

But after some encouraging momentum last spring, Federal Transit Administration officials reportedly have expressed concern of "insufficient progress," putting most of the project's federal funding at risk. The project reportedly is at least one year behind schedule.

Failure to retain the grant would likely kill the project, Joe Edwards, chairman of the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District, told local media. But Edwards said the FTA warning was a wakeup call that might spur action. . "I think it was great the FTA did that. They really do look out for taxpayer money," he said.

A local one-penny sales tax, to be paid by property owners and voters along the route, will provide much of the local match for the project.

A second streetcar plan is being advanced by citizen advocates in St. Louis seeking to serve the city's downtown with the Central West End as part of an economic development package.