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TRAX passengers who want to go to Jordan Commons, the Sandy Expo Center - and maybe one day to the Real Salt Lake stadium - can now ride light rail instead of battling freeway traffic.
The new Sandy Expo TRAX station at 150 E. 9400 South boarded passengers for the first time Monday after an inaugural ride by 2nd District Rep. Jim Matheson, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and Utah Transit Authority officials.
The $2.1 million station is the second to open since the original north-south TRAX line started operations in December 1999.
As with the 900 South station in Salt Lake City, which opened nearly a year ago, there is no parking. Rather, the Sandy Expo stop is a "destination station" that will have a drop-off area only.
Matheson, Utah's only Democratic member of Congress, got 80 percent of the cost of the 9400 South stop earmarked as part of last year's federal transportation bill. Salt Lake County kicked in the other 20 percent, in part by reallocating hotel tax revenues.
In contrast, Salt Lake City chose to pay for its new $1.2 million 900 South station.
UTA spokesman Justin Jones said his agency's policy has been not to build any stations beyond those included in the original line but to allow a limited number of stations to be built if cities can come up with the money.
At the same time, UTA doesn't want the north-south line to have so many stops the train becomes slower for commuters than driving Interstate 15.
Besides accommodating visitors to the venues clustered around 9400 South State, the new stop will allow Salt Lake County to connect the expo center and the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, allowing ever-larger conventions.
Jordan Commons administrators initially opposed the platform, worrying that without a dedicated TRAX park-and-ride lot the commercial center's parking areas would become default commuter parking. Neighbors of the 900 South station could pose similar parking problems, though the dearth of street parking and the station's location in a neighborhood rather than at destination venues has meant little disruption.
The Sandy Expo station is nearly twice as large as the 900 South station, and has a split platform instead of the usual center platform.
Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan, who with House Speaker Greg Curtis met the train when it arrived, climbed on and then debarked after the other official passengers for the cameras and the dedication ceremony, said Sandy's growth spurred the new station. "We saw the future," Dolan said.
The mayor said the conference center draws an estimated 750,000 to 800,000 visitors each year. Jordan Commons draws 3.5 million people and the 25,000-seat Real stadium, if built, would bring 1 million visitors per year, Dolan said.