UNIVERSITY CITY • Loop Trolley backers have been granted another six months to start significant construction on the planned 2.2-mile fixed-rail system linking the Loop entertainment district to Forest Park.
At its meeting Monday night, the University City Council set aside the voiced objections of two council members and two resident opponents to the trolley project, and granted an extension to a conditional use permit which was first issued by the city in March 2013. The permit, which allows for construction activities and initial trolley operations, was to have expired on Dec. 23.
The Loop Trolley Transportation Development District expects in January to authorize significant construction to begin, transportation development district Administrator Christopher C. Poehler told the council. He said that construction bids, which the district this fall rejected for being $11 million higher than the $43 million projected, had been re-packaged and sought again, and are now coming in closer to pre-bid estimates.
"The numbers are more in line with our estimates than they were the first time," Poehler said. "They are generally around our estimates."
Councilman Terry Crow, who along with Councilwoman Paulette Carr voted against the extension, said the council had already granted four permit renewals.
"This is almost becoming comical," Crow said. "Why should we approve this?"
Despite the project delays, City Manager Lehman Walker said, "I think it is in the best interests of the city that we proceed with this project."
TDD Chairman Joe Edwards recently said that the trolley would be fully operational in late spring or early summer in 2016. That is a few months later than he forecast last summer.