What UTA has in mind for the future with its new 2050 'roadmap'

A FrontRunner train passes under a pedestrian bridge at 300 North and 490 West in Salt Lake City on Oct. 18, 2023. Utah Transit Authority officials adopted a new long-range plan for the agency during a meeting last week.

A FrontRunner train passes under a pedestrian bridge at 300 North and 490 West in Salt Lake City on Oct. 18, 2023. Utah Transit Authority officials adopted a new long-range plan for the agency during a meeting last week. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — More frequent transit service, especially during the weekends and in new areas within the Utah Transit Authority range, is prioritized in a new long-range plan that Utah transit officials recently approved.

Utah Transit Authority's board of trustees adopted a revised version of the agency's "UTA Moves 2050" plan that oversees what the agency wants to implement by 2050, during a meeting last week.

The document outlines all sorts of goals to enhance service — from large FrontRunner, TRAX and bus rapid transit systems to upgrades to regular bus service. It also outlines new areas for service along the Wasatch Front, Tooele Valley and parts of northern Utah.

It essentially serves as a living "roadmap," guiding UTA through upgrades over the next 26 years or so, said Alex Beim, UTA's manager of long-range and strategic planning. The agency's primary goal is to make service more accessible as the state grows.

"We're looking to bring more service to more places throughout the service area with the goal to get to as many Utahns close to transit as possible," he told KSL-TV on Friday.

The document outlines four strategies: Maintain the system, improve the system, expand frequent service network and serve growth areas. It also outlines various projects that play into these strategies.

The biggest remains efforts to double track more of the FrontRunner line between Ogden and Provo. The project, which Beim said is expected to begin "soon," would open the door for 15-minute service during peak times and regular Sunday service for the first time. However, it's also projected to be a long project and may not be complete until the end of the decade.

A new Point of the Mountain station and an extension of service to include new stations in Springville, Spanish Fork and Payson are also included in the plan as possibilities over the next 10 years.

UTA's TechLink project is included in the plan, as well. It would bring new light rail service between Salt Lake City International Airport and the University of Utah. It could also potentially add a new line cutting through an abandoned rail corridor that goes through the western part of downtown Salt Lake City and its emerging Granary District.

Utah Department of Transportation officials are also looking at ways to extend TRAX from its current terminus near 12300 South in Draper to an area closer to the Point of the Mountain.

Smaller projects to increase existing bus service are also outlined in the plan, as are areas that could be added for new service. Farmington, Lehi, Sandy/Cottonwood Heights, western Provo, the southwest corner of Salt Lake County and parts of Weber County north of Ogden are listed as "mobility zones" that UTA is looking at.

Beim explained that these are general areas that could get new bus services in the future or UTA On Demand service, which is a mix between traditional transit and ride-share service. Overall, he's hopeful that the 2034 Winter Olympics could speed up the funding process to help some of the projects happen, much like the 2002 Winter Olympics helped TRAX become a reality.

"We're hoping to see that advance some of these projects faster," he said.

Another update to the plan is expected in 2027 as service demands change. Beim said the agency will continue to collect public feedback and ridership data over the next few years, which will help prioritize future projects.

Transit is expected to play a big role in Utah transportation planning as the state's population continues to rise, along with other alternative options like active transportation, UDOT director Carlos Braceras said Monday.

"We can't address all of our needs with new roads or widened roads," he said. "It has to be truly multimodal."

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Utah transportationUtah growth and populationUtahSalt Lake CountyUtah CountyDavis CountyWeber County
Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com.


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