Airport TRAX line ahead of schedule

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Weekend placement of steel girders for a downtown viaduct puts the reopening of North Temple and the Utah Transit Authority's Airport TRAX line ahead of schedule.

The old viaduct at the north end of The Gateway closed April 18, completely closing North Temple on either side of the previous overpass. Street-level construction work also crowds traffic lanes along 400 West on the block north of Energy Solutions Arena.

"It's been challenging for businesses along North Temple that are dependent on traffic coming to and from downtown," UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter said Monday. "It's a top priority to get that open again so we can minimize the impact of the project."

Crews moved the final girders for the vehicle traffic portion of the new viaduct in place over the Union Pacific and Frontrunner tracks Sunday morning. Separate framework for the rail portion of the new viaduct is scheduled for placement in March. "In the meantime we'll begin building road deck to get the road open next summer" instead of October as originally planned, Carpenter said.

It's certainly moving along faster than we originally had anticipated," Salt Lake City Councilman Carlton Christensen said Sunday. "Having these girders up (is) an important part to getting the roadway portion opened again."

Once completed, rail passengers will be able to use stairs or an elevator to connect between a TRAX stop at the top of the viaduct and a FrontRunner stop beneath. The UTA expects FrontRunner traffic headed downtown from the north will primarily use the new North Temple transfer station and most FrontRunner passengers arriving downtown from the south will continue to use the existing transfer station on 200 South.

The six-mile Airport Trax line is expected to open in 2013 with the line extending to Terminal 1 at the Salt Lake International Airport. All roadways affected by construction should be open next summer, Carpenter said.

The UTA expects the Airport Trax line will have 6,000 daily weekday riders when the line opens with 14,000 weekday riders, on average, by 2030.

The viaduct portion of the project accounts for $71 million of the $350 million Airport TRAX line.



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