When we designed our TIGER program here at DOT, we wanted a competitive grant process that rewarded communities for coming together to solve problems. Towns, cities, counties, regions--they know what they need to help get people from place to place and boost economic development, and we wanted to hear their ideas.
Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake City, and the Utah Transit Authority put together a strong partnership and submitted an innovative idea that made the most of the community's resources and strengths: the Sugar House Streetcar. And yesterday, I had the great pleasure of helping that community celebrate a very festive groundbreaking for the new line.
It was a great pleasure because I was fortunate enough to visit Salt Lake City when we first announced our TIGER II grants in October 2010, and I saw how excited the community was about this terrific project.
And for very good reason.
When completed, the Sugar House Streetcar will connect one of the region's thriving commercial centers--the Sugar House District--with its excellent TRAX light rail network. When the regional plan is complete, the streetcar will have direct connections with more than 130 miles of regional rail transit. At its seven planned stops, the line will also feature bus, pedestrian, and bicycle connections.
And throughout the two-mile corridor, the new streetcar will attract new, mixed-use development on vacant and underutilized land in the rapidly growing region.
That translates to jobs. In addition to the approximately 700 construction jobs this project will create, regional planners have estimated 7,500 permanent new jobs as a result of the economic development the streetcar will foster.
Reduced roadway congestion, saving money at the gas pump, lower tailpipe emissions, stress-free travel, economic growth, and thousands of new jobs. All good news.
And, because of smart planning, the new line takes advantage of existing rights-of-way to keep the costs down. That means the partners won't need to spend money on land for the tracks, and that's great stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
That's the value a strong regional partnership creates. That's the value of innovative planning to solve problems. That's the value of TIGER.