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New streetcar system comes with heightened safety warnings

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SALT LAKE CITY — The region's first modern streetcar line opens for riders December 8, but testing and a safety awareness campaign for the new system started Thursday.

Trains are rolling on UTA's S Line streetcar, but it's a different kind of line that requires different safety awareness.

"Just take a moment, one moment, to save your life," said Sgt. Gary Keller of the South Salt Lake Police Department, who's helping to launch a safety campaign for the line.

One of the first things you'll notice with the S Line streetcar — no crossing arms at the intersections.

Commuters will see plenty of warning signs near the crossings, and during testing, police will be on site to talk with motorists and pedestrians about the safety campaign: "Be sure to stop, or meet a cop."

"We need to do everything we can to protect everybody," said Heidi Gomez, whose backyard overlooks the new streetcar line.

Gomez said she is excited about the transportation options the line opens up for her, and she can't wait for the opening. However, she said she's also worried about the safety of neighborhood children, especially a large refugee population that lives in the South Park housing area.

"They may just run, kick a ball, the ball could come rolling down, and they're not going to stop," she said.

The 2-mile line links Trax with neighborhoods in South Salt Lake and Sugar House. It runs from the 2100 South Trax station to the commercial district near Highland Drive. There are seven stations on the line.

Two trains are testing the line daily at speeds up to 25 mph, but they slow to 10 to 15 mph at crossings.

"They're not moving as fast as the Trax line, but let's face it, they're a lot bigger than a person or a car," Keller said. "If you're running these stop signs, I can guarantee you'll be meeting one of the officers in either Salt Lake or South Salt Lake," Keller said.

Keller said that their safety education efforts are intensifying now. They're asking motorists and pedestrians to follow several rules.

  • When you're riding your bike or driving near the corridor, always come to a complete stop before crossing.
  • Always expect to see a train when you come to one of the crossings.
  • Look both ways, another train could be coming from the other direction.
  • The trains do not stop at the intersections, so never try to outrun a train.

"We do not want to see anybody get hurt or injured in these areas," Keller said.


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Jed Boal


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