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Becker aims to speed up transit route

Salt Lake City mayoral candidate Ralph Becker wants to see a mass-transit route to Sugar House put on a fast track to be completed, if he's elected, during his first term in office.

By working together with South Salt Lake and the Utah Transit Authority, Becker said plans for a light-rail or trolley system along 2200 South can move forward much sooner than the 20- to 25-year timetable of the Wasatch Front Regional Council.

"I think this is a chance for Salt Lake City to show the kind of leadership that will make a big difference in transit," Becker said at a recent outdoor press conference along the abandoned rail line in Sugar House where the light-rail or trolley line would run.

Becker said Salt Lake City will work with South Salt Lake and UTA to complete an environmental assessment and then evaluate ways to expedite the planning and construction process. The price tag for the line is estimated at between $29 million and $37 million. Funding likely will need to come from several sources, including federal, state, city and donor money.

The transit line would link Sugar House to the main north-south TRAX line, bringing with it the benefits of relieving traffic congestion, improving air quality and strengthening economic development in the area, Becker said.

"It's a win-win-win for the neighborhood and Salt Lake City," he said.

UTA has been studying transit options for the area since January. The transit authority owns the old Union Pacific rail line that runs from about 200 West, near the 2100 South TRAX station, to just west of Highland Drive, behind the Granite block in Sugar House.

Salt Lake City Councilman Sren Simonsen, who represents Sugar House on the council, joined Becker at the press conference and praised the mayoral candidate for making the rail line part of his leadership agenda.

"This is an essential service," Simonsen said.

The Sugar House rail line is envisioned to have stations about every two blocks, Simonsen said.

"It will be a small-scale, locally serving transit system," he said. "It will not only support existing neighborhoods but will also really provide opportunities for amazing new development in both Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake."