Ahead of Wednesday's informational meeting on the Loop Trolley, University City residents questioned University City City Council members about the city's involvement—or lack there of—with the project.
Several residents questioned the council on changes to the project since it was originally proposed and whether stakeholders—namely residents—would have an opportunity to be heard.
Jan Scott told the council she attended meetings over the years and still wasn't sure "how a bus on wheels evolved into a multi-million dollar project."
Scott also asked who gave permission for the trolley to go from a hybrid vehicle on wheels to a wired car on tracks.
"Who is allowing them to lay down track?" she asked.
St. Louis County had announced that it would give maintainance of Delmar Blvd. back to University City. Residents asked if the County was allowed to 'give back' the road and when and how that transfer would take place.
"In my conversations with (County Executive) Charlie Dooley, he never said they wanted to give back the road because of the trolley," Mayor Shelley Welsch said. "He just said he wanted the issue settled before the trolley went in."
Director of Public Works Rich Wilson told the crowd that if the County retained control over Delmar, decision about the street would stay with County. If Delmar becomes a University City street again, all decisions on the trolley and its impact on the road would have to go through the city's traffic commission, green practices commission and other applicable city departments.
Several residents were concerned with the move to an overhead wire system as well as the distraction that comes from a trolley traveling on the same street with other motor vehicle traffic.
Council members noted the trolley project has evolved over many years, through many administrations and councils. City Manager Lehman Walker was asked to compile a council history of what the city council had approved and agreed to over the years.
Welsch said she believed the city had put out funds for an initial feasibility study, but was not financially obligated beyond that.
"We made no committment to the operation and maintainance of the trolley," she said. "This is supposed to be run by private donations, taxes and fares."
Council Member Paulette Carr encouraged residents to attend informational meetings and speak up.
"Go to the meeting," she said. "See the plan as it is proposed today. Raise your voice."
There will be a public information meeting on the Loop Trolley at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 16, at the in the auditorium. A detailed presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Construction on the is slated to begin in late fall, with a 2013 completion date.
The Loop Trolley route is a 2.2 mile fixed-rail trolley line along Delmar Blvd and DeBaliviere Avenue, extending from the Delmar/Trinity Ave. intersection to the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park.
The trolley itself will be a a restored trolley or replica heritage trolley that will operat on an Overhead Contact System (OCS). The OCS will use a single wire connected to light poles to run the trolley at speeds between 15-25 miles per hour.
You might be interested in these other Loop Trolley stories: