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For a couple of weeks now, people have stood on the 900 South TRAX station platform and to no avail pushed the buttons to open the doors of the stopped trains. On Monday, the doors opened, signaling with no fanfare the inauguration of the first new TRAX station on the Sandy line since the Utah Transit Authority light-rail system started up in 1999.
It was just in time for Brittany and Jake Hampton.
The Hamptons don't have a car, rely entirely on public transit and were about to give up their apartment near the corner of 200 West and 800 South when they noticed people getting on and off the trains right in front of their building.
"It's been kind of exciting," said Brittany.
Now, Jake said, they can ride the train to the Ballpark Station at 1300 South and walk just one block to get groceries at Wal-Mart, instead of having to walk all the way from home.
Passenger traffic was light at the 900 South station, but those boarding and descending were pleased. East High sophomore Long Trinh lives around the corner, works downtown and takes TRAX every day. He has already figured out what to do with the extra time he has now that he doesn't have to hoof it to 1300 South.
"A lot of homework," he said. "It just gets harder every year."
Fred Kuperus said he has used TRAX for four years to commute from South Jordan, walking to and from the ballpark to his job at 800 South and 500 West. Cutting the eight-block trip in half means he's less likely to miss trains, he said.
Steve Bachem used to drive from West Valley City to his job at West Temple and 700 South, but got sick of the traffic and the expense and became a mass-transit convert. The new stop is ideal for his job, he said.
"It's a nice walk, only two blocks."
The $1.2 million station still has a few bugs. The mid-block crosswalk is closed until the traffic lights are working, and the station art project - three 12-foot high glass sculptures featuring the likenesses of 15 neighborhood kids - won't be installed for another week or so.
The urban station is the city's first foray into what is known as transit-oriented development. Surrounded by new townhome and apartment development, with older homes in between, the station is aimed at people who want to live in a lively, affordable area near downtown.
The city kicked in $500,000 in redevelopment money for the station. But developers are coming in on their own, betting on the idea's success.
"Some of the area's vacant lots and homes that have been run down have been replaced by housing with no parking, purposely," said UTA spokesman Justin Jones.
Gary Cooper and his son, Allen Cooper, have been living in their tidy home across from the station for about 20 years, long enough for Gary Cooper to remember when heavy-rail trains lumbered down 200 West.
The Coopers like the station, but fear their block might turn into an unsanctioned park-and-ride lot. They are especially worried about frail elderly neighbors who need to have their cars parked at the curb in front of their homes.
They point to a new apartment next door that has 16 one- and two-bedroom units and a ground-floor laundry. The building has just 11 parking spots.
"If people respect the residents, we won't have a problem," the elder Cooper said.
If trouble does develop, the city could impose a residential parking permit system as they have in other densely packed neighborhoods.
But Jones said UTA and the city will have to wait to see if that's necessary.
"We see this as primarily a residential station within walking distance of people's homes. It's not really a destination for most people who are going into the city," Jones said. "We're watching close. I know the city is, too."
Jim Urquhart/The Salt Lake Tribune
Commuter Neil Rollins is pleased with the new TRAX station on 900 South on the Sandy line.