The same day the State Tax Commission served owners of the Heber Creeper Railroad with a nearly $500,000 tax lien, Utah Railway Historical Society Inc. and the Heber Valley Railroad Inc. announced a bid for service for the railroad at a press conference at Bridal Veil Falls Thursday.
Craig A. Marks, president of the non-profit Utah Railway Historical Society, said a proposal was presented Monday to Utah Department of Transportation Executive Director Eugene H. Findlay.The unsolicited proposal was thrown away, said Kim Morris, spokesman for UDOT. "Any approach to the Utah Department of Transportation is premature."
The trains are at a standstill.
The Heber Creeper is owned by New London Railroad and Village Inc., said Morris. "We don't own a train. They (those presenting the new bid) have got the cart way ahead of the horse."
Lowe Ashton, president of New London, Monday rejected a UDOT offer of $1,130,150 for the scenic railroad line, which starts in Heber and goes down Provo Canyon to near Bridal Veil Falls. He said that unless the state boosts its bid, the train will cease operation indefinitely after Saturday.
The Tax Commission wants the trains to halt now. The commission's lien directs the railroad to not dispose of, move, or even use its rolling stock and three of its locomotives.
The lien is the outgrowth of months of dispute between the railroad and state over back taxes and property taxes on the state-owned track.
The railway groups seeking to take over the operation of the recreational train said that under their proposal, the train would once again roll all the way to Bridal Veil Falls. "With the line extended back down to the falls, it will rival scenery found few places in the United States."
Besides the scenery, the new proposal is to make the trip a re-creation of a train ride in the '30s, with conductors and engineers playing the part of their counterparts in the past, said Marks.
The plans for the train include making the ride more affordable for families. Marks said a family of a Mom and Dad and six kids can't afford nearly $100 for a recreational train ride.
The Heber Creeper now charges $10 for adults and $5.75 for children three to twelve years old. If a family's children were all over 12, the cost for the train ride would be $80.
Marks' proposed rate fee would be $8 for adults, $6 for senior citizens, $5 for young adults and $3 for children 3 to 12, with a maximum charge of $35 for a family.
A two-mile walking trail is another plan the bidders have for the railway line. "We will work closely with environmental groups and others interested in Provo Canyon to develop a walking trail along the tracks from Bridal Veil Falls to Vivian Park."
"If . . . the state of Utah will act expeditiously on the bid, the train can roll again in April 1991," said Marks.