APTA | Passenger Transport
April 13, 2009

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2009 APTA - TRB Light Rail Conference Issue


UTA Makes Progress on FrontLines 2015 Construction; Project Includes 25 New Miles of TRAX Light Rail
Special to Passenger Transport

During the past year, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) in Salt Lake City has made significant progress on building its $2.8 billion FrontLines 2015 project, featuring 70 miles of rail lines. The project includes four TRAX light rail lines totaling 25 miles and one 45-mile FrontRunner commuter rail line.

In the summer and fall of 2008, UTA broke ground on four of the five rail lines encompassed in this project, starting with the Mid-Jordan and West Valley TRAX lines, then the FrontRunner South commuter rail line, and finally the Airport light rail line. Environmental study is underway for the Draper TRAX line, the final light rail project in FrontLines 2015; UTA plans to release the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for theline later this year.

While local funding covers the majority of the FrontLines project, the Mid-Jordan Line received a federal Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) on Jan, 9. Sherry Little, then the acting Federal Transit Administrator, attended UTA’s FFGA signing event. The contractor for this line, a consortium of Kiewit, Parsons, and Herzog, has taken advantage of the relatively mild winter, so construction is now 30 percent complete.

The other FrontLines 2015 lines are also making great progress. Design for the FrontRunner South line is 80 percent complete, with final structures design completion anticipated for this summer. Commuter Rail Constructors, a joint venture of Stacy & Witbeck Inc. and Herzog, is doing early construction on several structures and bridge abutments in the rail corridor.

The contractors for the West Valley and Airport TRAX lines contractors, Stacey & Witbeck Inc. and Kiewit, have pushed construction forward as well. Design is complete on the West Valley TRAX line, and construction is now more than 18 percent complete. West Valley TRAX line crews continue to do utility and earthwork and have even started placing catenary pole foundations.

Another notable fact about the West Valley TRAX line is the incorporation of Geofoam in the fill section for some of its flyover structures. Geofoam is a dense foam product that provides comparable strength to soil, wood chips, or other materials while saving the construction time that would otherwise be required for settling.

The current UTA system includes the 16-mile Sandy/Salt Lake TRAX line, which runs most of the length of the Salt Lake Valley, and the four-mile University line between downtown Salt Lake City and the University of Utah. In April 2008, UTA opened its first FrontRunner commuter rail line, providing service in Salt Lake, Davis, and Weber counties.

When FrontLines 2015 is complete, it will offer transportation options to the region’s residents, allowing them to use their personal vehicles less while still being able to fulfill their daily tasks. The project will also enable residents to save on fuel costs while decreasing local pollution levels. Additionally, FrontLines 2015 will give persons with disabilities and others who cannot drive the opportunity to fully participate in society, which benefits everyone in the community.

In addition to helping provide an environment for the rapid movement of goods and services, FrontLines 2015 is providing jobs to Utah residents. The project also is generating revenue through the sales and activities associated with planning and constructing the system. When FrontLines 2015 is complete, it will help Utahns maintain their high quality of living by allowing them to spend less time in traffic and more time in productive and enjoyable activities.

FrontLines 2015 also will greatly extend the reach of UTA’s rail and connecting bus services. UTA has committed to completing and operating all the rail lines in the project by 2015.

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