News: November 1999
15 November 1999
- On November 4, the Salt Lake City council voted to kill the proposed East/West light rail. This comes on the heals of anit-light rail candidates losing elections for several positions by major landslides. Due to the fact that the project had to start by December 31, and the new pro light rail council does not take office until the first week of January, the general feeling is that this kills any possiblity for the line until after the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. All three newpapers including the very conservative Deseret News ran editorials condeming the actions of the city council.
- Testing continues of the new North/South light rail line. Regular service will comence on December 6, with Grand Opening Ceremonies to be held on December 4.
- Several Groups including Chambers of Commerce, businesses, motels, outfitters, the North Central Montana Resource Conservation & Development, Amtrak, MT Dept of Transportation, Travel Montana, and the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial commission are working together to develop loop tours utilizing the Empire Builder. The program will promote the upper plains of Montana. In addition the program will help develop a promotional program for the Bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
4 November 1999
- Two of the most vocal opponents of Salt Lake's light rail lines, Drew Chamberlain and Janalee Tobias, running for city council seats in the city of South Jordan, UT were defeated on Tuesday. Drew Chamberlain running in a two person race garnered less than 25% of the votes. Meanwhile Janalee Tobias, running in a crowded lineup of 6 for 2 positions garnered the fewest votes of all the candidates, over 50% less than the person who came in 5th.
- Rocky Anderson won the election for mayor of Salt Lake. Although both candidates support light rail, the other Candidate, Stuart Reid was an employee of the present mayor DeeDee Corridinni. The present mayor supported the move of Amtrak to its new station with the promise of an 'InterModal Terminal' in the future, in order to facilitate selling the area of the former Union Pacific station to the Boyer Group. It is hoped that Rocky Anderson will be more willing to listen when it comes to the arguments to turn the ex-Union Pacific station into an InterModal terminal.
- Although I-695 that passed in Washington State, which eliminates the tax on car tabs, will have no direct effect on InterRail states, several future projects could be in doubt. Without the funds from the MVET tax as it was called, several projects will not see the light of day. One of the projects which likely will be cut is funding for the proposed Spokane to Liberty Lake light rail line. The natural extension of this line would be to Coeur d'Alene, ID along the growing I-90 corridor. The other project likely to be cut would be the study of the Spokane to Seattle day train. This extension of this train to North Idaho would service a growing market that lost its only commercial air service several years ago, and has very limited bus service.
1 November 1999
- On October 31, the Utah Transit Authority published a huge inset which was put into all the local newspapers. The inset included several pages on the new TRAX light rail line. Other subjects included alternative fuel cars, carpools, and other information concerning transit in the area.
- The city of Billings, MT has received a $750,000 Federal Grant to finish restoring the former Northern Pacific station that served the North Coast Hiawatha until that train died in 1979. The station sat empty until restoration started about a year ago. The entire are has seen a revival in the last couple of years, and the plans include making the train station the center of the redevelopment. Even though this would hurt the chances of using the station for restored rail service, there is plenty of room for a station to be built in the area.
- The Idaho Department of Transportation is pushing ahead with its Sandpoint, ID highway by-pass proposal. The proposal would include bulldozing the Amtrak/BN station in the city. In addition the reconstruction would put a two lane highway right next to the BNSF line for several miles leaving no room to expand the rail line or the highway. In addition it would take major reconstruction of the Montana Rail Link, Union Pacific, and the BNSF interchanges in the area. The project is opposed by many groups with the city of Sandpoint. Although this would have little effect on the present operation of passenger rail services, it would leave no room to expand service such as restoration of the North Coast Hiawatha, or any other future expansion. The Idaho Dept. of Transportation has been called the Idaho Dept. of Concrete by many groups, do to its policy of not looking at any none highway alternatives.