Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
Newel Jensen, top left, explains a map of a proposed TRAX line that will run to the Salt Lake Airport.

The Utah Transit Authority held an open house Wednesday for the public to offer comment and input on a proposed new TRAX line connecting downtown Salt Lake with Salt Lake International Airport.

The six-mile line would link with the current TRAX system in Salt Lake via a route along North Temple, west to the airport. Proposed stations would be located near the North Temple viaduct, at 850 West, 1150 West, 1535 West, 1900 West and the airport. An optional future station site included in the proposal could be located at 2200 West.

The new plan, and an accompanying draft environmental study report, is a revamping of a 1999 east-west light-rail plan that was never fully funded, though the TRAX University line was the east portion of that project that did get built.

UTA spokesman Chad Saley said his agency is gathering public input on all aspects of the proposed project, but the area drawing the most interest is whether the line should follow 400 West or 600 West as a connector between 400 South and North Temple.

"Initially, it was UTA's recommendation to go with 600 West," Saley said. "As we've moved forward, it's looking more and more like 400 West."

Other decisions yet to be made include the exact locations of stations and what type of platforms would be installed at these stations.

Artist's renderings of different options were presented at the open-house that showed the familiar center-loading platforms (the type that accommodate riders on the 400 South corridor) and a split-platform, side-loading design that separates platforms on either side of a street intersection. UTA representative Kevin Cox said the center-loading option might have some minor cost benefits, but otherwise it was two approaches to the same challenge.

UTA board member Keith Bartholomew noted that, ultimately, the decision is not in the hands of UTA.

"It's the city's facility ... they own the street ... it's their decision to make," Bartholomew said.

A copy of the environmental report can be found on UTA's Web site at www .rideuta.com. Look for airport TRAX line under the "projects/programs" link. Other issues addressed in the report include impacts to vehicle traffic, open space, wetlands, noise and vibration, air quality, visual impact and urban character. Maps and charts showing the proposed routes are also available on the site. The public comment period ends April 10.


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