New Federal Funds Push Utah Light Rail Program Across Finish Line
The final piece of the funding puzzle for Utah Transit Authority’s TRAX light rail line to the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper was put in place on Dec. 12. Federal Transit Authority Administrator Peter M. Rogoff presented $116 million in federal funds to UTA and Draper city officials to help complete the rail extension.
The FTA funds mark the last of the monies needed for UTA’s ambitious $2.8-billion Front Lines 2015 program, which is building 70 miles of commuter rail along the Wasatch Front over the next four years.
“This full-funding grant will allow us to move full speed ahead on this project and all the other projects in this program,” said UTA General Manager Michael Allegra.
The new rail line to Draper is a 3.8-mile extension of the Blue Line from its current southern end-of-the-line in Sandy, running north-south, parallel with Interstate 15. It extends light rail service from Sandy, at around 9000 South, to the new stop on Pioneer Road (12400 South) near the Draper city park and library. Allegra estimates the total cost of the new line—including design, construction and new vehicles—to be $195 million.
Allegra acknowledged UTA’s good fortune in securing this grant and previous ones. “We’ve received six of them so far for rail lines in Utah, beginning with the lines to the university,” he said. “This year, of course, budgets are very tight and FTA gave out only four full-funding grants across the country—and we are one of them.”
Rogoff praised the foresight of local officials in planning for mass transit along the Wasatch Front. “This is a great day for greater Salt Lake City and for Utah. It is part of a larger vision that was launched not in Washington, D.C., but here in these communities,” he said. “This (funding) is what FTA does. We partner with communities to make these visions a reality. We want to help provide reliable and desirable transit for communities.”
Spencer Cruse, project manager for Kewit/Herzog/Parsons, the joint venture design, engineering and construction team building the Draper line, said their focus will now turn to the next phase of the project. That includes building the elevated platforms for three rail stops, installing the catenary system, relocating utilities and constructing three park-and-ride lots.
Cruse said the team had some early delays in placing track due to a wet spring but was eventually able to get on schedule and stay there. The double, ballasted track makes seven grade crossings along its route.
The new Draper line is scheduled to open before the end of 2012.