Bus rapid transit plans moving forward in Provo

Bus rapid transit plans moving forward in Provo

(File, Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

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PROVO — After weeks of negotiation, one thing remains clear among Provo officials.

"We want bus rapid transit, we want it to move forward," Provo Mayor John Curtis said Wednesday.

The Provo City Council approved two resolutions on Tuesday that allow the Utah Transit Authority to advance in bringing the mass transit system to Provo.

UTA and the Utah Department of Transportation are proposing to build the bus rapid transit system through Provo and Orem. Sometimes called "light rail on rubber tires," the larger buses travel about half the routes in designated lanes with signal prioritization and would run in 5- to 7-minute intervals during peak times, according to Curtis' website that discusses the proposal.

Since the original modeling for the project was done in 2010, BYU's Campus Drive has closed, and traffic conditions in the area have changed. One of Tuesday's resolutions was to hire a third-party firm to re-evaluate traffic conditions and determine how they would affect the proposed bus rapid transit routes.

The four-week study is expected to cost the city about $70,000, although an agency to conduct the study was not officially selected Tuesday.

"I think it's money well-spent," Councilwoman Kim Santiago said. "Spending the money upfront to make sure we're getting it right, that we're getting a robust system that would help Provo residents in the long run is what's best for us right now."

Two options

Two routes, Option 4 and Option Zero, have remained under consideration by the council.

Option 4, which UTA has deemed most efficient in terms of ridership and economic potential, would run past Utah Valley University in Orem on University Parkway, loop around the BYU campus on 900 East and 700 North, and return along University Avenue. The route would also serve the Missionary Training Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

There's been a consensus that everyone would like to see that project in Provo. It has just been a matter of how to make it move forward.

–Councilman Gary Garett

Option Zero cuts out the loop around BYU's campus, avoiding 900 East.

Tuesday's second resolution will allow UTA to move forward in preparing a proposal to the Federal Transit Administration to fund Option 4, unless the study proves Option Zero to be more efficient. If so, UTA will adjust accordingly.

Overall, the desire to bring bus rapid transit to Provo is stronger than the preference toward any particular route.

Santiago, who originally voted against Option 4, said it is up to the the third-party evaluation to confirm which route will work best in current conditions.

"If Option 4 comes back as being the best product for the Federal Transit Administration in getting federal funding, and all the information we have been given is substantiated through this second opinion, than we will move forward with it," she said.

Council members say the resolutions are reflective of their desire to facilitate bus rapid transit in Provo.

"They are evidence of our council's general support of bus rapid transit in our city," Councilman Gary Garett said. "There's been a consensus that everyone would like to see that project in Provo. It has just been a matter of how to make it move forward."

"The council has worked really hard," said Councilman Gary Winterton. "They've all put forth their best effort in doing what they think is best for our city." Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com


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