This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2005, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The bridge over State Street in Midvale - the "one and only pinch point" along Utah's TRAX line where two sets of tracks become one - is about to become bigger and better.
The Utah Department of Transportation is scheduled to replace the old bridge this summer with a wider, two-track bridge. The 18-month-long, $16.7 million project is scheduled to get under way in June. It will include improvements to the drainage system below the bridge between 7720 South and 8000 South and a widening of the road to accommodate future lane additions.
A historical and environmental study of the bridge was completed earlier this fall by Horrocks Engineering out of American Fork. No one seems to know the age of the art-deco-style bridge - even UDOT and the Midvale Historical Society were fuzzy on the bridge's past.
"I cannot find anything in the [Midvale] history book relative to the bridge," Midvale Historical Society member Boyd Twiggs said. "I talked to several people that are in their 70s and 80s and they indicated that the bridge has been there since they can remember."
Residents concerned that the new bridge will not have the same character should not worry. The style of the new bridge is expected to reflect the old one, said UDOT resident engineer Steve Poulsen.
"It will be much bigger and wider but with the same flavor and feel," he said.
Part of the new bridge will be erected before the old bridge is
disassembled so as not to affect TRAX service between Salt Lake City and Midvale. The second portion of the bridge and the additional track will then be installed.
Utah Transit Authority spokesman Justin Jones said the new track will " expand the one and only pinch point" left on the TRAX line. "It will add flexibility, efficiency and safety" to the system," he added.
The second track and larger bridge is also necessary because the number of TRAX passengers has increased by 46 percent from this time last year, Jones said.
A new track should allow TRAX to extend its service and run trains every ten minutes instead of every 15 minutes, Jones said. Additional trains could also be added to the fleet of 15 trains, or 49 cars, that are already running.
During part of the construction period, the area of State Street below the bridge will be reduced to only one lane of traffic each way, causing potential traffic congestion. But UDOT spokesman Brent Wilhite said it will all be worth it.
"It will be short-term pain but long-term gain," he said.