ST. LOUIS- In a brief meeting of the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District board Tuesday, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said the Federal Transportation Administration has granted her requested a one-month extension for the board to come up with a plan to restore service for the project or risk losing millions of dollars in clawed-back funding.
Jones, who now heads the TDD board, has long been an opponent of the project, but on Tuesday repeated her fears that defaulting on the federal funding for the Trolley would also have a potential negative impact on other projects down the road seeking federal dollars. She said her administration is still reviewing previous budgets and options.
“We have been warning our region for months of this happening and that the failure to fix the Loop Trolley problem will leave us on the hook for tens of millions of dollars,” said Jones.
The FTA told the board late last year that it needed to come up with a plan to provide at least four-day Trolley service on the 2.2-mile track with three cars starting no later than June 1. It generated less than $33,000 in 11 months of operation before shutting down in December 2019.
The federal government spent more than $36 million on the Trolley’s construction and other projects done at the same time. The FTA could take $22.1 million back without a new proposal.
“We will continue to have conversations with business owners and organizations along the trolley route to see how we can best use the trolley as an asset,” Jones said. “I m committed to fixing it because St. Louis City and St. Louis County do not have $22 million to give back to the federal government.”
In a statement, the St. Louis County Executive’s Office said: “The additional month will help the transportation district get a plan together that won’t jeopardize the funding already received for the trolley or future transportation dollars for the region.”
Some residents are also ready for the service to be restored.
“It’s been kicked around and chewed over for so long now. I think it’s time they should fish and cut bait,” said St. Louis resident Richard Lowenstein.
“I think it’s going to bring some colors and hues to this street, and I think that’s what we need,” said Washington University student Seunghyun Huyn. “More culture and less divide.”
The TDD board will meet again next month before the March 1 deadline.