Draper approves TRAX route

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 15 2006 12:00 a.m. MST

DRAPER — The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of a controversial TRAX light-rail line that will curve through low-density neighborhoods — much to the chagrin of residents who will hear, see and feel the trains from their back yards and front porches.

A local activist group, Citizens for Responsible Transportation (CRT), has already obtained legal representation and is in the process of attempting to overturn the vote with a referendum.

"Why sacrifice all of the historical, quaint areas?" said Summer Pungh, a CRT member who led the charge to collect signatures for a petition last month. (In three days, more than 800 residents signed.) "It's going to feel like an industrial urban area with all these train stops."

The line in question would run on the old Union Pacific Railroad tracks, which were purchased as a right-of-way by the Utah Transit Authority in 1993.

Although UTA owns the property rights to the corridor, it has spent the past year studying the option of either putting the TRAX line on the UP right-of-way or building it along State Street. The study included an open house and public hearing, at which most residents spoke out against placing the TRAX extension on the UP right-of-way.

In the end, a panel of UTA, Draper and Wasatch Regional Council officials found the best alternative to be the UP right-of-way, which curves past City Hall and 1300 East, goes along Highland Drive and ends at South Mountain.

GJ LaBonty, project manager for UTA, said the transit agency would not consider building a line through Draper other than on that right-of-way.

"In a lot of ways, this decision was made a long time ago," Councilman Jeff Stenquist said in reference to the Draper City Council approving UTA's purchase in the early 1990s. "Really, if we were not to have TRAX come to Draper, it would be our community that would be missing out."

LaBonty said the line would at least be started by 2015, after two years of studies and after funding is in place.

But local residents are concerned with their property values, the Porter Rockwell trail that parallels the TRAX line, safety, noise, pollution, ground vibrations, traffic, lights and environmental impacts.

Nikki Tanner, a mother of four who lives close to the line and owns land next to it, is concerned about children who play on the Porter Rockwell Trail. No one under the age of 18 has ever been killed by a TRAX train. But, Tanner asked, "Where does TRAX run through highly residential neighborhoods? In my opinion, that's an accident waiting to happen."


E-mail: astowell@desnews.com

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