Agreement Draft Near on Commuter- and Light- Rail Corridors

Agreement Draft Near on Commuter- and Light- Rail Corridors

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The final draft of the Utah Transit Authority's agreement with 40 cities on commuter- and light-rail corridors is expected to be completed by the end of the week.

The pact will then go to city councils and the UTA Board for final approval.

The UTA needs to have a deal or legislation in place by March to receive federal transit funds and begin building the first phase of the commuter rail line, which will run from Pleasant View north of Ogden to downtown Salt Lake City. The line is scheduled to open in 2007.

Legislators said in November that they wanted an interlocal agreement in place by the Jan. 19 start of the Legislature's 2004 session, or they would impose their own solution.

A bill to that end was sponsored by Sen. Greg Bell, R-Fruit Heights, and it cleared the Political Subdivisions interim committee unanimously. It would have granted the UTA regulatory and zoning primacy in the corridors, without giving cities much say.

Bell and other lawmakers saw the bill as leverage and they say it worked.

"The bill accomplished its purpose because the parties were able to come together," Bell said.

City officials negotiated with the UTA throughout the fall on such issues as easements, utilities and crossings.

Lindon Mayor Larry Ellertson, who along with Layton Mayor Jerry Stevenson and City Attorney Gary Crane spearheaded the negotiations, said the proposed agreement would give each side much of what it wants.

"Under the legislation, UTA was exempted from city regulation," said Ellertson. "This agreement says UTA is still subject to city regulation as a general (rule), but not as it pertains to the construction and operation of their system. And the cities will not impose permitting or other fees."

But if it's not something defined as part of the system, then the cities would have regulatory authority, he said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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