Loop Trolley cost climbs to $51 million
6 hours ago • By Leah Thorsen
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The cost of building the Loop Trolley has climbed to about $51 million, surpassing the previous $43 million estimate.
The 18 percent spike is attributed, in part, to street paving and landscaping costs. Project leaders have secured a $5.4 million federal grant, and now they’re seeking $3 million from St. Louis County.
Critics say the cost of the 2.2-mile trolley line under construction between University City and Forest Park is too high. And some business owners say traffic hassles caused by construction in the Delmar Loop are hurting them, including a man who blames the trolley as why he had to close his restaurant.
But its supporters argue it already is spurring development and will be a boon for businesses when the trolley brings in visitors. They also say that even with the additional costs, the trolley is being built for significantly less than streetcar lines in other cities.
Perhaps its biggest advocate is Loop businessman Joe Edwards, who has been promoting a trolley since the late 1990s and is the chairman of the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District’s board of directors.
“It’s always better doing things in a first-class way if possible,” Edwards said of the additional money, which also will pay for things such as station-stop furnishings, signals and lighting, as well as for contingencies should bids come back higher than expected.
Edwards said the trolley is attracting economic investment — he cited its fixed tracks as an advantage over a bus route, which can change — including millions of dollars in improvements to the Gotham apartments at Hamilton Avenue and Delmar Boulevard.
“It’s really the future of cities in America,” he said, saying more people want to give up driving and are seeking out transit and walkable communities.
In the Loop, the trolley will share Delmar with cars, similar to a bus, pulling out of traffic at designated stops.
It will run on a single track in the center median east of the Pageant on Delmar and will head south onto DeBaliviere, continuing on a single track on the east side within a new greenway. It will stop and reverse direction at the Missouri History Museum.