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TRAX testing resumes at site of fatal accident

By Shara Park | Posted - Jul. 5, 2011 at 5:05 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- TRAX trains are back on the track of the Mid-Jordan line almost a month after a 15-year-old girl was struck and killed by a train during a test run.

That Mid-Jordan line opens for passengers August 7th, so does the West Valley line. With nearly 16 more miles of light rail tracks in the valley, the Utah Transit Authority is stressing safety.

UTA is still in testing mode, but Tuesday is the first day trains have run on the line since Shariah Casper was fatally hit at the crossing near 3200 West and 8600 South. UTA has made many safety improvements and as a result the crossing looks very different now than when Casper was hit.

We've done our due diligence in engineering this to the extent possible to be a safe crossing.

–Gerry Carpenter, UTA

UTA spokesman Jerry Carpenter said, "We feel at this point we've done our due diligence in engineering this to the extent possible to be a safe crossing."

A month ago, the area already included a crossing arm. But sound walls extended up to the sidewalks, blocking visibility. They were removed. Anyone traveling the route Casper took now would be stopped by a gate. Signs caution people to look both ways. A signal flashes and a warning sounds when a train is approaching.

The Federal Railroad Administration, UDOT and UTA launched a safety review of the Mid-Jordan line following Casper's death. Subsequently changes were made to three crossings. Carpenter says safety is a priority for UTA and the updated safety measures allowed testing on the line to resume.

Crossing with Safety Improvements
  • 3200 West
  • 2700 West
  • 2200 West

"This was a tragic incident. Our hearts and prayers have really gone out to this family. We feel terrible any time this sort of an incident occurs. We always take a close look at the situation, do a full investigation and a safety review of any incident that occurs on our TRAX line," he explained.

Tuesday morning, TRAX operators and personnel got a first-hand look at the new safety measures. Carpenter says the TRAX operators are aware of what happened to Casper and want to avoid a similar incident. But pedestrians need to do their part, as well.

"There are really two parts to safety. Part of it is the engineering, and then the other important part is education. We can't ask parents strongly enough to bring your children down here and show them how to read the signs and cross, so when they do cross at any of these intersections, they can do it in a safe manner," he said.

UTA police will be on hand at all three updated intersections to answer questions and ensure that people crossing are aware of how to do so safely.

Testing will continue until the new lines open for business in about five weeks.

New trains running on Fashion Place - University Line

Also Tuesday the new S-70 TRAX light rail trains begin regular service.

The trains will make 10 northbound and 10 southbound trips from Fashion Place Station in Murray (6400 South) to the University of Utah Medical Center Station each weekday.

These new trains are low-floor cars, meaning people can board straight from the platform without climbing stairs. For details on accessibility, click here.



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Shara Park


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