In Utah communities, quality-of-life issues are a daily challenge. And you don't have to be an environmentalist to believe that quality of life is not always tied to economic development.
That said, there is a difference between pushing Utah in controversial directions and finding a way to accommodate the influx of citizens already here. The former is a function of "vision," the latter an exercise in "problem solving."
And we feel voting "yes" on Opinion One this November in Davis, Weber and parts of Box Elder counties will go a long way to solve some of the state's inevitable problems with transportation.
Not to be confused with Referendum One or Proposition One, Opinion One would add a quarter cent to Utah sales tax in order to build commuter rail north through Davis and Weber counties and into parts of Box Elder County, as well as to make other transportation improvements. Money is needed to purchase the corridor and to upgrade existing rails to handle commuter trains. The trains would move at 70 mph. There would be four stops.
We agree with the statistics that show the line is needed even if Utah were to have zero growth over the next few years.
For decades, the old Bamburger Line ran from Cache County to Salt Lake City. Thousands of people were able to commute during World War II to visit relatives, shop, work and make sure the outlying counties of the state remained stitched together during a crisis. The new commuter-rail line would serve much the same purpose. It is about more than shuttling workers to-and-fro, it's about keeping areas to the north from becoming isolated and beyond the reach of convenient travel.
The Chambers of Commerce in three counties are spear-heading the campaign under the banner of the Northern Utah Transportation Alliance.
Utah is one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, doubling national statistics for growth throughout the 1990s. By 2030, another 1 million citizens will be here. By 2020, commuter rail will be vital to the movement of people and commerce.
We suggest voters show some "2020 foresight."
It's time to resurrect the glory days of the railroad in a fresh incarnation. Commuter rail north is a need, not a want.