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East-west transit study due by early fall

Published April 26, 2007 1:04 am

The aim is to connect a light-rail station with the Sugar House commercial district
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SOUTH SALT LAKE - An east-west transit corridor study is about one-third done, a transportation consultant told members of the City Council on Wednesday.

The study, begun in February by Salt Lake City-based Fehr and Peers, aims to identify the best route and vehicle to move people between this city's light-rail station on the west to the Sugar House commercial district on the east.

That goal should be met by September, said Fehr and Peers Project Manager Robin Hutcheson.

South Salt Lake and Salt Lake City approached the Utah Transit Authority, requesting such a study be done. "That's unusual," said Hutcheson, noting the drive for the study came from the bottom up.

UTA currently owns a right of way along the old Union Pacific rail line at 2250 South. Area trail enthusiasts envision a linear park and asphalt trail running alongside the transit corridor.

To receive federal funding, the study must consider other route options as well as UTA's right of way. Hutcheson said the study encompasses the area between 1700 South and 2700 South, and the TRAX station at 250 W. 2100 South, eastward to 1300 East.

"We're also looking at build and no-build options," Hutcheson said, meaning the route options could be dismissed in favor of existing services.

UTA's bus No. 30 already services an east-west route along 2100 South, but trail and trolley enthusiasts, along with redevelopment proponents, hope for a people-mover with more appeal.

In early April, the firm held its first open house on the issue. About 80 people attended, Hutcheson said.

Of that group, 45 supported adding a new east-west transit option while seven were against it.

"Trolley and TRAX were head and shoulders above the other modes," Hutcheson said. A rapid bus, streetcars and, yes - even gondolas - are among other alternatives getting a look.

As far as route, 18 preferred the UTA right of way, seven favored 2100 South, which is becoming increasingly congested.

There was broad support for the rail-trail, noted Hutcheson.

"We've developed goals from what we've heard so far, to provide a neighborhood and pedestrian friendly option for those who live in the area, then, beyond that, a connection to regional modes of transit," Hutcheson said.

Councilman Bill Anderson asked how much weight public input actually carries, especially when UTA already owns a right of way.

"We won't build something the community doesn't want," said Mick Crandall, UTA deputy chief of planning and programming

The next open house is scheduled for July 22.





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