Anderson Lobbies for Light Rail Project Funds

Anderson Lobbies for Light Rail Project Funds

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News Specialist Jed Boal reportingSalt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson wants area residents to have a rails-to-runway option as soon as possible.

An aide to the mayor is on his way to Washington, D.C. to push for funding for a light rail line to the airport. But the project is hardly on a fast track.

When the north-south line opened more than three years ago, there was a lot of talk and work being done on a line out to the airport.

That line is a critical component of the long-term plan. But other lines are more likely to be built first.

Wheels turn slowly when it comes to construction for light rail and commuter rail.

But with two lines in operation and another on the way, construction plans for the West Valley and Mid-Jordan lines are full speed ahead.

Those are next on the Wasatch Front Regional Council plan, but the mayor of Salt Lake wants to make sure the airport remains a priority in Congress in the upcoming transportation bill.

"This is the right time for us to make sure our congressional delegation knows how strongly he feels about having the airport line included in that next version of the bill," says the mayor's senior advisor, D.J. Baxter.

Anderson views TRAX as a regional line and thinks the projects should be prioritized by readiness.

"The environmental work for the airport line has been done for many years now. The preliminary engineering is complete and it really is ready for funding and construction," Anderson says.

Environmental work is not yet done on the mid-Jordan and West Valley lines.

Preparedness, federal funding and preference on the Wasatch Front Regional Council steer the process.

UTA calls the airport line a priority. It's just not the first priority. And the transit authority wants to present a united front in Washington.

"The plan calls for those west side projects to be done first and then the airport line, and we want to convey that plan to Congress," says UTA spokesperson Kris McBride.

The number one planning priority for UTA is commuter rail. All of the plans are based largely on federal funding and local matching money.

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