UNIVERSITY CITY • Construction of the proposed $43 million Loop Trolley rail line is set to begin this summer after the City Council gave the project final approval Monday night, according to Joe Edwards, a Loop businessman and chairman of the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District.
"I am relieved and excited," Edwards said after the special council session. "Work should begin this summer on utility relocations and other preliminary work."
Council members gave unanimous approval to a trolley construction, maintenance and operations agreement and a permanent easement pact, both of which Edwards said allow the trolley district to solicit bids and award construction contracts. Construction bid packages are now available for contractors, and Edwards said that he is confident that costs will fall within the project's budget.
The Loop Trolley is a planned 2.2-mile fixed-route electric trolley line linking University City's Loop restaurant, shopping and entertainment district to Forest Park. The route runs on Delmar boulevard and DeBaliviere avenue with the University City library at one end and the History Museum in Forest Park at the other.
Edwards, who recalled that he first proposed the trolley line in 1997, said trolley operations are scheduled to begin in early 2016. The line is funded by a 1-cent sales tax within district boundaries, as well as by tax credits, grants, tax-increment financing and private contributions.
In other action during an unrelated special study session, the council voted to make four changes to its council meetings procedures. Council members Paulette Carr and Terry Crow contended that three of the changes were championed by Mayor Shelley Welsch and the council majority to sidetrack a series of proposed minority-sponsored council resolutions, especially one related to a proposed censure of Councilman Stephen Kraft for alleged misconduct at a council meeting and on another occasion.
"This just doesn't smell right," Crow said, adding that the council "has an obligation to take a vote on the actions of our colleague."
Carr, who along with Crow seemed to have the vocal support of most in the crowd of 100, objected most to a rule change that would allow council minutes to reflect the actions of the council, not the statements made by council members. She said that official council minutes which reflect "who said what and why" had been part of city council meetings since 1947 and that doing away with expanded minutes was "a radical move" designed to impede council transparency and accountability.