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SALT LAKE CITY -- One of the top transportation priorities in the capital city is up in the air. City leaders still hope to come up with the cash to build an upgraded North Temple viaduct for the new airport TRAX line, but the clock is ticking.
A few years ago, in a growing economy, the idea of replacing the aging viaduct with a newer, better bridge would not have been so problematic. But now it's a different story.
"The challenge is bridging a $25 million gap in an economy where city revenues are deteriorating. And there really aren't a lot of options for us to come up with that $25 million," said Ben McAdams, senior adviser to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.
The idea is to tear down the old bridge and build a new one. It would carry the TRAX line, have a bike lane and pedestrian sidewalks, and include a transfer station to the nearby FrontRunner line.
If Salt Lake City can't come up with the $25 million, then UTA will go back to the original plan to thread the light-rail line around the viaduct, over the railroad tracks and out to the airport.
The city has raised $50 million so far, but there's no additional stimulus money to cover the remaining $25 million. So, city officials hope to close the gap with cost-savings, and then ask for help from nearby property owners whose property values would likely increase with the new bridge.
"We're asking them to come through with a contribution. That's on the smaller end. We're looking at somewhat less than $5 million for that," McAdams said.
The mayor's senior adviser thinks to odds of gathering up the necessary money for the new viaduct are about 50-50. Construction on the airport line is expected to be done by 2012 or 2013.