Score one for the west side.
Tonight, the Salt Lake City Council will likely approve a 400 West alignment for the segment of the new airport TRAX line instead of a route along 600 West originally proposed by the Utah Transit Authority.
Residents have turned out in force at several public meetings to express their concerns about the 600 West alignment and the accompanying bridge it would have required over the Union Pacific and commuter-rail lines that run near South Temple.
West-siders argue the 600 West alignment would hurt views from their homes, increase traffic and crime, and contribute to perceptions that physical and sociological barriers exist between Salt Lake City's west and east sides.
It appears that the City Council is on their side.
"I think our decision is pretty much fueled by our public meetings and the interaction we had with the community," said Van Turner, council chairman. "We have a real good sense of what they want."
Mayor Rocky Anderson, the Planning Commission and the Salt Lake City Transportation Advisory Board previously have endorsed the 400 West alignment. UTA, which has favored the 600 West route, also is on board, said spokeswoman Carrie Bohnsack-Ware.
"We really want to work with Salt Lake City," Bohnsack-Ware said, "and they're both good alternatives. We will fully support whatever the City Council decides. We just want to get the project moving."
Prompted by the location of the intermodal hub and business developments in the area, UTA earlier this year began studying whether to move a segment of the airport TRAX line from 400 West to 600 West.
The 600 West alignment made sense to UTA officials in that it would create a direct connection with the intermodal hub, cost about $12.5 million less and have less negative impact on traffic, Bohnsack-Ware said.
The Boyer Co., managing partner of The Gateway, also expressed concerns that the 400 West route would increase traffic and limit access to the outdoor shopping mall. Those concerns still need to be addressed, said company president Jake Boyer.
"We haven't seen the traffic studies to see if it can work on 400 West," Boyer said. "If it works and everyone feels great about it, we don't have as much complain about it."
Council members don't expect to be able to hammer out all of the details of the airport TRAX line during the work session at 2:45 p.m. today and meeting at 6:30 tonight. Both meetings will be held at the Salt Lake City-County Building and are open to the public.
The only thing that appears to be a lock is the 400 West alignment.
"While we may have the resolution (tonight), there certainly is a great deal of detail work yet to do," Councilman Eric Jergensen said, citing as examples the location of TRAX stations, whether to rebuild the North Temple viaduct and how to fund the project.
The proposed resolution calls for six TRAX stations on North Temple, including one on top of or next to the viaduct. The others are proposed for the intersections of North Temple and 800 West, the Jordan River, Cornell Street (1537 West), Winifred Street (1950 West) and 2300 West.
The City Council favors an upgrade to the North Temple viaduct over a complete rebuild, which UTA estimates would cost an additional $40 million. Plans call for a second bridge to be constructed to the north of the North Temple viaduct for the TRAX line and station.
West-side residents would like to see the viaduct completely rebuilt to include the light-rail line running down the middle of North Temple."That would be the ultimate victory (for west-side residents and businesses)," said Vicky Orme, chairwoman for the Fairview Park Community Council. "But the fact that they are going (to run TRAX along) 400 West, that in itself is a victory."
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