Kathryn Pett, general counsel for the Utah Transit Authority, is leaving the company after eight years to return to private practice.

Pett's resignation went into effect Thursday, when the UTA Board of Trustees agreed after a two-hour closed meeting to not renegotiate her contract. Pett will be retained as a consultant, receiving payment of no less than $50,000 in the coming year. Her base salary was $229,000 this year.

Both Pett and board president Orrin T. Colby Jr. said the resignation was amicable.

"Companies have changes all the time and I think this, in all honesty, has to be construed in that way," said Colby. "There really isn't much behind this story. Kathryn has interest in looking at other things."

During her time at UTA, Pett was a lobbyist and negotiator. Colleagues say a key achievement was her role in negotiating the acquisition of 175 miles of railroad right of way from Union Pacific. The right of way is being preserved for projects like commuter rail and extensions of TRAX.

"She has just been phenomenal here," said UTA general manager John Inglish. "She helped with the transportation deal of the century, which is the acquisition of the UP right of way."

Pett will begin work next year with the firm of Snell & Wilmer, headquartered in Phoenix. She said she will work with other transit agencies in the West, leading negotiations to acquire rail right of way.

"I can use those skills I learned (at UTA) in other places," said Pett. "At UTA, that real complex work, the complex deal-making type of stuff is pretty much done."

In the interim, Pett will be replaced by Bart Simmons, UTA's assistant general counsel. The UTA Board of Trustees will begin a national search next year for a permanent replacement.

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