Commuter Rail Should be Operating in Four Years

Commuter Rail Should be Operating in Four Years


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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The first leg of the commuter train system should be operating by 2007, a UTA official said.

The 43-mile stretch of track will include nine stops from Salt Lake City to Pleasant View in Weber County, said UTA commuter rail engineering manager Steve Meyer.

Trains are expected to make about 48 trips daily on weekdays between 5:30 a.m. and 11 p.m., with trains arriving every 20 minutes during rush hours and every 40 minutes during off-peak hours.

UTA officials said the fare is likely to be distance-based, unlike TRAX, which has a fixed fare.

Before it can happen, a lot of work needs to be done, Meyer told the Deseret News.

Last year, UTA purchased a 20-foot right-of-way corridor from Union Pacific. The 100-foot-wide corridor runs parallel to Interstate 15 from Payson in Utah County north to Weber County.

New rail track must be laid for most of the corridor in Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties.

Power line poles, which are currently in the train's expected path, also must be moved. In addition, train station platforms and parking lots will have to be constructed.

The $500 million project will be funded from a variety of sources.

Federal transportation funds may match as much as 50 percent of the project cost with the rest coming from voter-approved quarter-cent sales tax revenues from Weber, Davis and Salt Lake counties.

Other funding will come in the form of local station improvements made by cities.

Already city planners are working on plans.

In Salt Lake City, construction on the city's intermodal center is already under way. The center will tie in bus, light-rail, commuter rail and taxi services.

A walkway will be built from Rio Grande Avenue to the station. The Delta Center TRAX line will be extended south on 400 West to 200 South, where it will pull up along the commuter train platform.

Passengers will simply walk off light-rail trains and cross the platform to the train. Funding for the extension has not been secured, said UTA spokeswoman Andrea Packer, but she said it is the goal of UTA and Salt Lake City to have it completed when commuter rail is operational.

Just north of the Gateway Center, a second train platform is planned to tie in to a future light-rail line to the Salt Lake International Airport.

Heading north, the next stop would be Woods Cross, where a train platform will be built, along with a 750-stall parking lot. Woods Cross City is also planning housing and commercial development near the station.

In Farmington, a new east-west overpass would link Farmington's east-side residential areas to a station. Because the commuter rail track is sandwiched between I-15 and the Union Pacific track, a pedestrian tunnel is planned so passengers can access the east train platform from the west parking lot.

The next proposed stop is to be built on Layton's west side.

Layton City economic development specialist Seth Butterfield said the city envisions a mix of residential, commercial and business buildings near the station.

The estimated $136 million project would include a pedestrian-friendly shopping area with housing built on top, including senior housing. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by 2009, Butterfield said.

The Clearfield station is expected to serve an estimated 19,000 civil employees at Hill Air Force Base, some 9,500 employees at the Freeport Center and hundreds more at Weber State University's Davis County campus.

Ogden has already completed its hub, with bus depots and a center with coffee and sandwich shops. Meyer said the Roy and Pleasant View stations would primarily act as collectors for those bedroom communities.

Though plans are moving forward, Allegra said specifics must await a public comment process, which is expected to take place in early 2004.

UTA plans to hold public hearings and to make presentations to city councils. Once the plan has cleared public comment, Allegra said the design process will begin in earnest, followed by construction.

UTA plans to eventually extend the commuter rail system to Provo, possibly by 2012 and up into Brigham City in years to come, but no date has been projected.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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