Stenger: He’ll probably block Loop Trolley request for more money

39

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said Wednesday he probably will reject putting an additional $500,000 in county money into the Loop Trolley project.

“I would say at this point it’s probably not going to happen,” Stenger said in an interview. “We would need to have more of a demonstration of need than we’ve been given.”

He pointed out that he had supported the project in the past, with the county providing it “a great deal of money” – $3 million.

County Council Chairman Sam Page, D-Creve Coeur, said he generally agreed that trolley officials hadn’t made a good case in their request for more money.

Joe Edwards, who chairs the trolley district, said if his request is indeed turned down, he would try again after the trolley begins operations. That’s tentatively planned to happen in mid-November.

“I think it’s a reasonable comment that he made,” he said of Stenger. “Once it’s up and running, we’ll be able to show (the $500,000) is really needed.”

Edwards said the extra county dollars would, among other things, allow the 2.2-mile line between the Delmar Loop and Forest Park to have longer operating hours and thus improve its chances of success.

He also said it would allow for larger, more informative signs for the trolley stops and provide some financial stability for the line.

He added that “I think it’s going to be needed for renovation of the fourth or fifth car,” he said. The trolley is now set to begin operations with two cars, with a third to be ready sometime after that.

The line also owns two additional cars that would be rotated into operation later.

Stenger said if he doesn’t recommend the extra appropriation to the council, the council would be unable to approve it.

A county charter provision says any supplemental appropriations must be proposed by the county executive. Stenger’s office said the Loop Trolley money is in that category.

The federal government has provided $33.9 million of the $51 million cost of building the line.

Stenger was interviewed after the annual meeting of Citizens for Modern Transit, a transit booster group, at the Marriott Grand downtown.

At the meeting, the group gave its 2017 chairman’s award to Stenger, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern for working out a memorandum of understanding aimed at improving security on MetroLink and Metro buses.

In response to outbreaks of violence, including fatal shootings and assaults on light-rail platforms, St. Louis County now supervises all the officers working the transit system.