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UTA again delays tests on Mid-Jordan TRAX line

Published June 24, 2011 12:08 pm

TRAX • Crews will check effectiveness of removing sound barriers at crossings.
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The Utah Transit Authority is again delaying resumption of test runs on its new Mid-Jordan TRAX line as it considers how to avoid accidents like the one that killed a 15-year-old in West Jordan on June 8.

UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter said full test runs, which had been contemplated to begin as early as Friday, now will not resume until the middle of next week at the earliest.

However, the UTA plans to run one train slowly — at about 20 miles per hour — along the line on Friday to see how much pedestrian visibility has been improved by removing sound wall sections at crossings with Redwood Road, 2200 West, 2700 West and 3200 West. "We will have crews on the ground to review the effectiveness of the changes," he said.

Carpenter said UTA is still reviewing whether to make additional changes beyond the removal of those sound walls. "We're going to wait to resume testing until all the changes are in place," Carpenter said. "We hope to wrap up the evaluation process next week. We won't resume full testing until midweek at the earliest."

Ken Casper, whose daughter, Shariah, was killed by the TRAX train, has called for other steps such as pedestrian gates and lights — and removal of a "quiet zone" designation along the line, where trains no longer need to sound their horns as they approach intersections because of the addition of flashing lights and crossbars there.

Shariah Casper was struck and killed by a TRAX train at a crossing on 3200 West near 8400 South. She and a cousin had waited for an eastbound train to pass. She then walked out in front of a westbound train, which she did not see because of a 12-foot-high sound wall.

Flashing lights were operating and gates were lowered to stop vehicle traffic on both sides of the light-rail line, but no gate was directly in front of Casper. UTA at the time was running the equivalent of a full schedule to test the line and train operators.

The Mid-Jordan line is scheduled to open to passengers on Aug. 7, along with a new TRAX line in West Valley City. Carpenter said UTA is holding to that scheduled opening, even though training and testing runs have been shut down on the Mid-Jordan line since the June 8 accident.

Carpenter said UTA has been using the new West Valley City line to train new operators and familiarize them with new-style cars that will be used on the two lines.





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