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Frontrunner tracks stretch from Ogden to Provo, service still a few years off

Published: Sunday, April 17 2011 5:21 p.m. MDT

A FrontRunner engine at the 2008 groundbreaking for the Lehi station as part of southern expansion of UTA service.

Ashley Lowery, Deseret News

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LEHI — Commuters in Utah County are getting closer to hearing UTA say "all aboard" for FrontRunner, but a drop in sales tax revenue is slowing some aspects of the project.

Construction started a couple of years ago on what will be known as FrontRunner South and work continues to progress.

In fact, the track is now built from the end of the line in Provo north to Thanksgiving Point.

"There's still a couple of years of work ahead, but at this time, we're projecting an opening in 2014, said UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter. "A lot of the track work in Utah County has been completed."

But it will still be some time until you see FrontRunner trains running on the rails.

That's because when the project was approved five years ago, the economy was booming. But the revenue UTA was counting on then is down dramatically.

"With sales tax revenue being down about $100 million from where we were projecting it would be, we're faced with the challenge of having to slow down a little bit and not work quite as fast as we would otherwise," Carpenter said.

Construction on the Utah County FrontRunner line is more complex than construction on the line to Ogden, which already in operation. Instead of just two bridges that had to be built for the northern route, the southern line requires 20 bridges.

That makes the project not only more expensive, but it takes more time.

UTA promises commuters they will save time when the new FrontRunner line opens. UTA projects 7500 passengers will ride the train each day.

In addition to four stops in Utah County, FrontRunner will also have stops in South Jordan and Murray.

"We're working hard to fulfill our commitment to the taxpayers that approved this in 2006," Carpenter said, "and we expect to have the project up and running here in the next couple of years."

Email: spenrod@desnews.com

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