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Failure to revive Loop Trolley could cost St. Louis region millions in federal funding

“The St. Louis region hasn’t kept it’s commitment to run the trolley, which was required to receive those funds,” said St. Louis County Executive Sam Page.

ST. LOUIS — The Federal Government is pushing to revive the Loop Trolley nearly 2 years after its last ride, and failure to do so could cost the region millions.

“We have to make sure that the Trolley succeeds because if it does not it impacts our ability to receive future federal dollars for other transportation projects,” said Mayor Tishaura Jones.

That warning is now a reality after the Federal Transit Administration sent a letter to members of the Loop Trolley Development District warning that they have until Feb. 1 to come up with a plan to get the trolley back on track.

“The St. Louis region hasn’t kept its commitment to run the trolley, which was required to receive those funds,” said St. Louis County Executive Sam Page. “At risk is around $37-million in federal funding that’s come to the area.”

An October attempt to revive the Trolley for at least two years was derailed by the East-West Gateway Council.

READ: Plans to revive Loop Trolley derailed by East-West Gateway Council

“It’s amazing to not pass something where no local funds were required and those funds just disappeared,” said Blueberry Hill owner Joe Edwards.

“That was unfortunately shortsighted and has put our region at risk to have this money clawed back, which is a black eye for all of us,” said Page.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and Mayor Tishaura Jones have been steadfast in their stance that no more public funding should be spent trying to save the trolley.

“We all know that the trolley was one of those projects that should’ve never been built,” said Jones. “It’s one of those stains on our region that we have to fix.”

That’s why Jones says she’s committed to finding a way to protect the transit dollars, and that ensures we receive federal funding in the future.

“This fell in my lap and I feel like as Mayor I have to take the steps to fix it,” said Jones.

“We are carefully reviewing the letter,” said Taulby Roach, CEO of Bi-State Development.  “As I have stated previously, even though this is not a Bi-State Development or Metro Transit project, defaulting on a federal transportation grant could damage future funding opportunities for the entire region. The FTA’s position is clear. It expects a solution aimed at fulfilling the interests of the general public. What form that could take will be up to the TDD to determine. There are no easy answers here.”

MORE: Federal agency threatens to pull back $37M in funds if Loop Trolley isn't in operation by June