The Utah Transit Authority will celebrate the completion of the downtown TRAX extension with an event at the new Planetarium Station, 125 S. 400 West, at 2 p.m. today.

Service on the new line, which runs from the EnergySolutions Arena to the new Salt Lake Central Station at 300 S. 600 West, will begin Sunday, April 27, and is the culmination of more than four years of planning and construction at a cost of $41.7 million. The extension connects the new FrontRunner commuter rail with Sandy and University TRAX lines. There are three stops on the new line: the Central Station, the Planetarium Station and Old Greektown Station, which is at 200 S. 500 West.

Scheduled speakers for UTA's commemoration of the new line include Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, Clark Planetarium director Seth Jarvis, UTA general manager John Inglish and UTA board president Orrin Colby. Becker said the new service creates benefits for riders beyond the scope of Utah's capital.

"The grand opening of the intermodal hub, or Central Station, really represents a new era in surface transportation," Becker said. "Not just in Salt Lake City but along our whole urban Wasatch Front."

In addition to creating a connection between FrontRunner and downtown transit, the new Central Station will also connect to UTA bus service and Amtrak rail service. Becker said the opening is just the beginning of new options for transit riders.

"We're going to be developing a whole new set of bike facilities and offerings for people who are coming into this facility," Becker said. "The whole endeavor is reflective of where we are going in this community ... and all up and down the Wasatch Front."

Jarvis said the new option for visitors links into the vision the planetarium promotes.

"We're trying to get people to look at things in a new way," Jarvis said. "Getting here, to the planetarium, in a new way works very well with that idea."

Jarvis said the end of the construction around his facility, located in The Gateway mall, should remove the psychological barrier for customers that comes with a work zone, but more importantly he feels that new and upcoming transit expansions are good for everyone.

"Anything that makes it easier for people to get here does us all good," Jarvis said. "Connecting downtown with Davis County, and Ogden, with public transit ... as well as the Sandy service, we all win."

Becker sees the new service as a bellwether for responsible growth.

"We're in the midst of a tremendous growth of our transit system, and in particular our rail system," Becker said. "I think it bodes extremely well for the future of this whole region. The investment we've made, the investment we're making and the investment we will make in the future will pay huge dividends for us in air quality and alternative ways to get around that are convenient and accessible."

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