While most of the light-rail attention these days is focused on the 15-mile Sandy-to-Salt Lake City light-rail line, serious thought needs to be given to the best way to implement an east-west light-rail line from the Salt Lake International Airport to the University of Utah.
As more and more people call Utah - and in particular the Wasatch Front - home, alternative forms of transportation to vehicular traffic become vital. This page has supported a balanced approach to transportation - the improvement and widening of major thoroughfares such as I-15, the build-ing of a major new road, the Legacy Highway, establishing alternative modes of travel such as light rail and commuter rail, and improving the bus system.The east-west light-rail corridor would be a welcome and needed addition to the other transportation projects.
And now is the time to seriously plan for it. Government planners and consultants are doing just that. They face a number of challenges, such as deciding what is the best route, the impact the route will have on traffic patterns and neighborhoods, whether to transfer jurisdiction of the road from the state to the city and how to best interface the light-rail line with a proposed commuter-rail project.
Officials need to make a decision soon on the route if east-west light rail has any chance of being designed and built before the 2002 Winter Games. While it would be nice to have the east-west light rail route operating for the Games, it's more important that the project be right than rushed. If major route details can be worked out within the two month time frame needed to have the system operating in 2002, that's fine, but the Games should not be the determining factor of the project's timing.
These new mass-transit systems and highway projects will serve Utahns and visitors to the state for many years. They need to complement one another. That will take a lot of planning and vision.
In order to reduce vehicular traffic, the alternative systems, such as light rail and commuter rail, must be convenient. They must be planned and constructed in such a way that a certain number of commuters will prefer using them as opposed to hopping in a car and driving to work or play.
An east-west light-rail corridor coupled with the north-south light-rail line already being constructed, would reduce traffic congestion and provide an effective way to shuttle people around Salt Lake City.