Amy Choate-Nielsen: Ceremony launches construction of West Valley TRAX line

Published: Thursday, June 19 2008 12:01 a.m. MDT

The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga Brass Band performs Wednesday at the groundbreaking ceremony to begin construction on a West Valley TRAX line.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

WEST VALLEY CITY — West Valley City came one shovelful of gravel closer to gaining its own TRAX line Wednesday as the Utah Transit Authority ceremoniously launched construction on the next phase of its FrontLines 2015 project.

The projected $240 million to $290 million TRAX line will run from the existing 2100 South TRAX station to a future intermodal hub that will be built near 3500 South in West Valley City. The five-mile line is expected to be completed in the next seven years.

Having the mass-transportation system in West Valley is cause for celebration, West Valley City Mayor Dennis Nordfelt said, but the project is far from being finished.

"In fact, we're really closer to the beginning than we are to the end of the regional transportation system," Nordfelt said. "This is not a time for us to wipe our brows and say, 'Whew, we finally did it,' and we're here and we've arrived.

This is a time for us to get excited and move forward with the other additions we need in the regional transportation systems."

Bus rapid transit lines are set to start operating in West Valley on July 14 — before construction on the entire line is completed — and UTA plans to begin construction on FrontRunner from Salt Lake City to Provo this summer.

The West Valley TRAX line and FrontRunner South project are part of UTA's FrontLines 2015 project, which involves building 70 miles of rail and light rail by 2015. UTA originally planned to finish the projects by 2030, but community support and a voter-approved quarter-cent sales tax increase gave UTA incentive and resources to bump the projects up by 15 years.

UTA general manager John Inglish says the transportation system, when it's completed, will be "a national showcase for all good things" that's ahead of its time. Inglish pointed out that the project was made possible through the voter-supported tax increase, but he added that if voters had approved the increase sooner the system would be further along.

"If the public had voted for this in 1992, this would be up and operating today," Inglish said. "If I had one regret, it would be that we weren't smarter in 1992."

With gas prices rising every day, Inglish said there couldn't be a better time to move forward with the rail projects.

"It's a good thing we're doing," Inglish said. "As more people use transit, the better the system will get."

UTA projects to be completed by 2015

Upcoming UTA projects to be completed by 2015:

• Mid-Jordan TRAX line, connecting the 6400 South TRAX stop to Daybreak in South Jordan — currently under construction.

• West Valley TRAX line, connecting 2100 South TRAX stop to future West Valley City intermodal hub near 3500 South — construction will begin this week.

• FrontRunner South, commuter rail from Salt Lake City to Provo — construction is expected to begin late this summer.

• Airport TRAX line, connecting downtown Salt Lake City to the Salt Lake City International Airport — construction is expected to begin by the end of the year.

• Draper TRAX line, extending TRAX from 10000 South in Sandy to about 14600 South in Draper — a construction date has not been scheduled.


E-mail: achoate@desnews.com

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