Tuesday, November 24, 2015

County Council Will Vote Tonight on Giving the Loop Trolley $3 Million

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 6:00 AM

The Loop Trolley is slated to open in 2016. - PRESS ILLUSTRATION
  • Press illustration
  • The Loop Trolley is slated to open in 2016.

The St. Louis County Council needs to cough up $3 million in tax dollars for the Loop Trolley — or the project stands to lose a bigger federal grant, plunging it into possible financial peril.

That's according to District 5 Councilman Pat Dolan, who is sponsoring the item on tonight's agenda that would earmark money for the project. The item is slated for a final vote tonight.

"They could lose the Federal Transit money if there isn't matching funds," Dolan says. "And we've got a dedicated transportation fund with $20 million sitting in it. I don't want to see the region apply for federal grants and then not be able to sustain them."

The trolley was originally slated to cost $47 million, but costs have risen to $51 million thanks to increased paving and landscaping costs, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. After previously winning a $25 million federal grant, the trolley has secured an additional $5.4 million grant from the feds.

But it needs a local match, Dolan says. He hopes to find it in money from the sales tax increase approved by voters in 2010, which earmarks an additional half-cent sales tax to transit issues. Dolan said this would be the first contribution county taxpayers have made to the project.

Chris Poehler, executive director of the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District, confirmed that a portion of the county funds are necessary as a portion of the federal grant.

The trolley, a 2.2-mile line connecting University City with Forest Park, has been under construction since March. The Loop was plagued with traffic problems and parking woes until a few weeks ago, when major work on Delmar came to an end. However, a final piece of construction, involving the already jam-packed Skinker Boulevard, will take place next summer.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com


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