UTA plan to extend FrontRunner service in Utah County picks up steam

A Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner travels near Point of the Mountain in Bluffdale on Sept. 19, 2023. Utah transit officials are holding four meetings about their plans to extend FrontRunner service to Payson as the project heats up.

A Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner travels near Point of the Mountain in Bluffdale on Sept. 19, 2023. Utah transit officials are holding four meetings about their plans to extend FrontRunner service to Payson as the project heats up. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News )


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PAYSON — Utah transit officials have long been vocal about their desire to extend commuter rail service beyond Provo in Utah County.

Now they're beginning the first steps in a lengthy environmental impact process to make it happen. They're also holding a series of public meetings to keep county residents informed about the plan, which would include new stations in Springville and Spanish Fork before it reaches a new terminus in Payson.

It's still too early to know when that could happen. Utah Transit Authority is now starting up its design and environmental review for the plan as outlined in the National Environmental Policy Act, said Janelle Robertson, a project manager for the agency.

"We are currently refining the alignment of the project so we can define the footprint for the environmental phase," she told KSL.com Tuesday. "We are close to finalizing that and starting the environmental work, the design work that goes along with that."

It's a process that typically takes about two years or more depending on variables discovered during the process; however, Robertson said a draft environmental statement could be released by around mid-2025.

The document will ultimately outline project costs, starting up another phase where funding is secured before any construction begins. There isn't a timeline for when service to Payson could begin largely because it's so early in the process.

UTA's latest long-range plan, which was updated earlier this year, lists FrontRunner service expansion to Payson as a goal to be completed by the early 2030s.

"We are investigating funding options, but it is not (currently) funded for the construction," Robertson said.

UTA acquired an old Union Pacific line a few years ago. Transit officials plan to cap the line by Payson's northern end.

Payson — like other cities in Utah County — is one of the fastest-growing communities in the state. It was among the 10 fastest-growing cities in both numeric and percentage growth between 2022 and 2023, according to the Census Bureau. The county leads the state in growth by a large margin.

Meanwhile, UTA is slated to hold four public meetings over the next few weeks where Utah County residents can learn about the plan and sign up for project updates. Residents can also provide feedback that could be used toward the ongoing planning stages.

The first will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Payson City Center, 439 W. Utah Ave. That'll be followed with meetings on:

  • June 4: Provo Library Young Special Events Room, 550 N. University Ave.
  • June 6: Heritage Room at Library Hall, 80 S. Main in Spanish Fork
  • June 12: Civic Center Multipurpose Room, 110 S. Main in Springville

The three additional meetings will also run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in their respective locations.

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com.

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