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TRAX Salt Lake City Light Rail

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This page was last updated on August 17, 2013.

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TRAX Lines

General UTA TRAX News Items

[Most recent event listed first]

August 7, 2011
With the opening of the Mid-Jordan and West Valley TRAX lines, UTA also started using its new color-codes to designate its various light rail routes.

December 2009
On December 4, 1999, the authority launched the system as a 15-mile north-south line connecting Sandy City and downtown Salt Lake City. The system carried more than 600,000 riders during its first month of operation. Now, TRAX averages between 40,000 and 50,000 riders each weekday. In December 2001, UTA opened a second light-rail line from downtown to the University of Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics. Additional TRAX extensions opened to the University of Utah Medical Center in 2003 and Salt Lake Central Station in 2008, when UTA introduced its first commuter-rail line, FrontRunner, running 44 miles from Salt Lake City to Pleasant View. (Progressive Railroading, December 2009)

June 25, 2009
UTA received $48.3 million, which comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. About $24.8 million will be used to remodel a former ZCMI warehouse at 2200 South and 900 West for a TRAX car maintenance center. It will be called the Jordan River Service Center. UTA has a similar facility, the Lovendahl Rail Service Center, in Midvale. It services 69 light-rail cars and will stay open. (Deseret News, June 25, 2009)

October 2008
Compared to September 2007, the ridership figures for TRAX increased 19.8 percent to 1.3 million. The average daily ridership for TRAX was 51,849. For FrontRunner, the ridership for September 2008 were 196,158, and an average daily ridership of 8,250. (Progressive Railroading, October 14, 2008)

March 2008
In a review of federal Fiscal Year 2009 funding for national transit projects, UTA's TRAX light rail, and Frontrunner commuter rail projects were shown as having received a total of $101.64 million in FY2007 and previous years, and $78.40 million in FY 2008, with $81.60 million planned for FY2009. Of a total $489.30 million appropriated in its Full Funding Grant Agreement, UTA had $227.69 million remaining. UTA was number nine in a listing of fifteen transit projects nationwide, slated to receive a total of $9.2 billion. New York's Long Island East Side project was the largest ($2.6 billion), and a light rail project for Norfolk, Va., was the smallest, at $127.98 million. (Railway Age, March 2008, page G2)

November 21, 2007
UTA announced that it had purchased the old ZCMI warehouse at 2200 South and 900 West, at the crossroads of Interstate 15 and 2100 South. The warehouse, with a total of 320,000 square feet, sitting on 24 acres, would be totally reconfigured as a maintenance facility for light rail vehicles. UTA purchased the empty warehouse from Macy's department store, for a reported $10 million. (Deseret News, November 22, 2007, "Wednesday")

October 2006
"UTA carries 50-millionth TRAX passenger, seeks feedback on proposed extension -- The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has reached a ridership milestone. The agency recently carried the 50 millionth passenger on its seven-year-old light-rail system. The passenger boarded the TRAX system sometime during the evening commute on Sept. 25, UTA said. The agency collects ridership data during a month, then processes the information the following month. As TRAX ridership continues to grow, UTA is considering whether to expand the service. The agency recently held an open house to review and gather public input on a proposal to extend the light-rail line from Sandy City south to Draper." (Progressive Railroading Daily News, October 26, 2006)

April 2006
Average daily ridership for all of TRAX light rail was 57,500, about four times the original projections prior to the opening in late 1999.

During 2002, TRAX's system had 33 cars and two routes. The original Salt Lake City to Sandy line, 17.3 miles completed in December 1999, and the later University Extension, 2.3 miles completed in December 2001, just in time for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

October 2001
(Railway Age, October 2001)

Light rail will be a key player in the 2002 Winter Olympics, moving masses of athletes and spectators in and around Salt Lake City.

The building of a light rail system in Salt Lake City has been a truly Olympian effort. From the beginning, planners had to fight local pockets of stiff anti-rail resistance--"Build it but they will never come!" In Washington, they had to line up behind dozens of other cities pressing for a share of the meager federal funding available each year for new and expanded rail transit systems.

But they gained a powerful advantage when Salt Lake City was selected to host the 2002 Olympics Winter Games. Congress was eager to present to the world a picture of gleaming American efficiency, especially in view of the tarnished image projected by the Atlanta games. Special funding was earmarked for Salt Lake City's light rail project, and the builders went to work.

The first TRAX light rail segment, a 15-mile, 16-station north/south line, opened in December 1999. It was an instant success, and (as in other new light rail cities like St. Louis, Denver, and Dallas) the doomsayers were dumbstruck.

June 2001
(Trains, June 2001, page 68):

Back To The Future In Salt Lake City -- Salt Lake City has a glorious traction past. The Utah city founded by Brigham Young had a streetcar system owned by Union Pacific's E. H. Harriman. Onetime Gov. Simon Bamberger built a thriving interurban linking the capital city with Ogden, the big railroad center and jumping-off point for the epic Southern Pacific crossing of the Great Salt Lake. Other interurbans went south to Payson and north to Preston, Idaho. There was even an electric line out to an amusement park on the Great Salt Lake, the Salt Lake, Garfield & Western.

It all came crashing to a close after World War II. The SLG&W was the last to survive, but the wires came down in 1951. Some of its and the Bamberger's trackage is still used for freight service, while Salt Lake City was paved over for automobiles.

Who would have thought that there would be a great traction revival toward the end of the 20th century? Well, it's happening. A 16-station, 15mile light-rail line opened on December 4, 1999, linking the southern suburb of Sandy to downtown Salt Lake City; trains lay over right in front of the still-impressive Union Pacific station. Daily ridership tops 25,000, and a frantic effort is underway to get a $120 million, 2.5-mile eastern leg built and opened in time for the 2002 Winter Olympics, to be conducted in the nearby Wasatch Range. Twenty-three Siemens SD-100 six-axle articulated cars are in operation with 10 more to arrive this year.

March 2000
Utah Transit Authority released a survey showing that 44 percent of riders who regularly use the Salt Lake City TRAX light rail line have never before used public transit, dispelling critics' arguments that LRT riders have been shifted from buses. Overall UTA ridership (buses and TRAX) jumped 20 percent during January, compared to the same period last year. Some 17 percent of the gain occurred on weekdays, but there was a 45 percent increase on Saturdays (the system is closed on Sunday). (Railway Age, March 2000)

February 1998
As part of the construction of its light rail line in Salt Lake County, Utah Transit Authority will be doing the environmental cleanup of Pallas Yard, located between 5300 South and 5900 South, along 300 West in Murray, Utah. Funding for the cleanup was obtained as part of the federal government's support of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Pallas Yard was built by both the Union Pacific and Denver & Rio Grande railroads as a joint facility to serve the rapidly expanding smelter industry in northern Utah. To fill in low areas at the time of construction of the new Pallas Yard, UP and D&RG used smelter tailings from adjacent smelter sites, which contained arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals as fill material. The cleanup was completed by excavating the fill material, capping the excavated area under the tracks with an impereable liner and clean soil, and depositing the fill material into eight-foot high capped berms along the UTA tracks. The capped berms were to serve as sound barriers for passing UTA trains. (EPA news release dated February 23, 1998; EPA "Returning Sites To productive Use", dated May 1999)

March 3, 1997
(Deseret News, March 3, 1997, page A1):

TRAX Name Selected -- It will be known as the UTA Transit Express, but you can call it TRAX. The Utah Transit Authority Monday unveiled a name and acronym for its planned light-rail commuter system, giving the $312 million project an identity UTA officials hope will be easily recognized, remembered and used. TRAX was the overwhelming choice of a focus group that spent weeks considering dozens of suggested names and poring over data compiled through opinion polls.

The runner-up was METRO, a name already used by the transit system in Washington, D.C., and similar to METROLINK, the name for the light-rail line in St. Louis. Now TRAX can be mentioned along with well-known U.S. transit acronyms such as BART for San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit, MAX for Portland's Metropolitan Area Express and DART for Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

UTA officials heard plenty of other suggestions, many of which would spell acronyms inappropriate for publication in a family newspaper. One of the less offensive names mentioned was Wasatch Area Rapid Transit, but it didn't take the focus group long to rule out "WART" as a viable option.

The name and TRAX logo were introduced Monday at the ZCMI Center Mall, where UTA will present an informational display through Tuesday.

UTA has received about $75 million of the $241 million in federal money the Clinton administration has pledged for light rail in Salt Lake County, primarily for the planning and design phase of the Sandy-Salt Lake line. Congress must appropriate the rest.

The TRAX logo will become increasingly visible as construction progresses. Eventually, it will be plastered across UTA's light-rail cars, light-rail stations and park-and-ride lots.

January 29, 1997
UTA's board of directors in its regular meeting, approved the Midvale site of the former Collett's furniture store as the location for its maintenance facility. The large warehouse building is situated adjacent to the former UP Midvale branch which will eventually serve as the eastern portion of the West Jordan Extension of UTA's TRAX light rail system. (part from Deseret News, January 30, 1997, page B2) (An additional facility was added in June 2009 in the former ZCMI warehouse on 900 West, as part of the West Valley line.)

Prior to the approval of the Midvale city council to allow UTA to use the site of the former Collett's store, UTA had searched throughout Salt Lake valley for a site to build its light rail vehicle facility. UTA had approached Draper to allow the facility, although the location would have been five south of the planned end-of-line in Sandy. All cities had turned them down due to perceived increases in auto traffic, noise and light-pollution from 24-hour operations. (Deseret News, January 8, 1997)

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