Last year the state tried to buy the Heber Creeper railroad for $1.6 million. Now senators want to take back the money.

In a close vote Friday afternoon, senators advanced a bill that would take the $1.6 million away from the purchase. They defeated a bill that would continue the appropriation just in case the antique railroad, which runs from Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon to Heber, comes up for sale again.The Creeper is owned by a private firm having financial troubles. Sen. Alarik Myrin, R-Altamont, who wants to keep the sale open, says tax liens have been filed, lawsuits filed over missed lease payments to the state, and a Small Business Administration loan may be foreclosed. If all that happens, Myrin says, the state could pick up some of the antique railroad cars or engines at a good price. The state already owns the track and right of way.

But Sen. Scott Howell, D-Salt Lake, says enough is enough. "The Heber Creeper could turn into another boondoggle for the state," said Howell, whose bill returns the $1.6 million to the general fund for other uses. "We need more money for education, for social services. What are our priorities when we spend it on something like this?"