The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has officially confirmed that they are looking into extending the TRAX light-rail line into the Point of the Mountain area and Lehi. However, they say that rumors that the line will cost more than $1 billion aren’t entirely accurate.
A spokesman for the UTA, Carl Arky, spoke with KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic today, responding to a Salt Lake Tribune article critical of the project entitled: “UTA has been promising to focus on buses rather than new rail projects. Now it’s proposing a $1B TRAX expansion.”
“I think the headline was a little misleading,” Arky says. “We’re not proposing a $1 billion TRAX expansion right now. We’re looking at it because we’ve been asked to look at that.”
The UTA TRAX expansion plan
UTA was asked to look into an expansion, Arky says, by The Point of the Mountain Development Commission, a group organized to encourage growth in the Point of the Mountain area.
The idea wasn’t entirely new to the UTA.
“We’ve had the TRAX expansion down at the Utah County in our 40 year plan for a long, long time,” Arky says.
He admits, however, that it sparked a new wave of discussion about the project.
For the time being, the UTA has not committed to doing anything. Arky says that they will be analyzing the possibility through a study, half of which will be funded by Salt Lake County and half of which will be funded through other organizations.
Until the study is complete, Arky says, it’s impossible to know how much it will actually cost. It’s also too early, he believes, to say whether it actually be funded through a tax increase. He says that, if the expansion is approved, the UTA plans on talking to local businesses and the state legislature for help funding it.
It will be at least four years before an extended TRAX line is completed. Arky told Dave & Dujanovic: “The best case scenario would be maybe 2023–2024, but that’s quick. That’s actually pretty quick to get a project of that magnitude done.”
Still, whether the UTA approves the plan or not, Arky believes that it’s something that needs to be considered.
“Let’s face it – when the prison moves, that is prime real-estate down there. It’s going to be developed. It’s going to be high-density. You’re going to have more people,” he says. “How many more roads can we build?”
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