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FrontRunner North Commuter Rail
This page was last updated on December 18, 2020.
The first phase of the commuter rail alignment will extend from Weber County to Salt Lake City and lies on the east side of the existing Union Pacific (UP) Railroad mainline tracks. The alignment extends 44 miles, contains 38.15 miles of exclusive right-of-way, shares 5.87 miles of track with UP, with 43 at-grade crossings and a 2,043 foot bridge over the Ogden rail yard.
The following project description comes from Consolidated Engineers and Materials Testing, Inc. (CE&MT) web site:
Commuter rail construction project running from Weber County (Ogden) to Salt Lake City Utah. CE&MT was awarded the quality control contract for the project, which involves:
- Over $550 million dollars in construction
- 44 miles of railway construction
- Eight major train stations
- 3000 feet bridge in the Ogden Yard
- embankment and retaining wall construction
- related utility and infrastructure modifications and construction
The project is managed by CE&MT's Jamie Fail. Fail has managed similar railroad projects for CE&MT in Wyoming and Nebraska for major Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad double and triple track expansions.
Prior to garnering the commuter rail project, CE&MT had a 17 year history of continuous railroad quality control and engineering work, completing over 85 major railroad projects totaling over $1 billion in construction, and encompassing over 250 miles of new embankment, 40 major railroad bridges, scales, fueling facilities, crossings, retaining walls, mechanically stabilized earth walls, and geotechnical reconnaissance. (CE&MT web site; https://www.cemtinc.com/; broken link)
[Most recent event listed first]
December 17, 2020
"Ogden prepares to buy land needed for FrontRunner expansion -- The city of Ogden, Utah, is preparing to buy a 5-acre piece of land needed for northward expansion of the Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner commuter rail service. The Ogden Standard-Examiner reports the UTA has agreed to the purchase, but Ogden has the final authority and is currently negotiating with current site owner Nelson Intermountain Crane. If the council approves the agreement, the UTA would reimburse the city for the purchase once the expansion north from Ogden begins. A public hearing on the purchase is likely in January. The transit agency's goal is to extend service about 20 miles north to Brigham City, Utah. Last week, the UTA approved purchase of a 38-acre site in Willard, Utah, for the expansion project." (Trains News Wire, December 17, 2020)
December 14, 2020
"Utah agency buys land for northward expansion of FrontRunner commuter rail -- The Utah Transit Authority is purchasing land for future FrontRunner commuter rail service to Willard, Utah, although no concrete plans currently exist for expansion to the community 14 miles north of Ogden. The Ogden Standard-Examiner reports the agency is purchasing 38 acres of land adjacent to Interstate 15 for just under $2.5 million as a possible station site and that the agency is looking to buy as much land as possible now to preserve space for the extension. Service to Box Elder County, which includes Willard, has been envisioned since the commuter rail service was launched in 2007." (Trains News Wire, December 14, 2020)
August 12, 2018
With the new schedule taking effect on August 12, 2018, Frontrunner service from Ogden to Pleasant View was discontinued, and replaced by bus service. (Deseret News, July 13, 2018)
The final train between Ogden and Pleasant View ran on the evening of August 10, 2018, at 7:24 p.m., with UTA Frontrunner locomotive number 15 as motive power. UTA number 15 was notable because it carried a special logo commemmorating UTA's 10-year anniversary for Frontrunner service.
UTA gave the reason for the closing of service to Pleasant View as the cost of adding Positive Train Control to the line. UTA stated that it could not justify the sole cost adding PTC to the line, which is owned by Union Pacific. There are not enough Union Pacific's freight trains that UP is required to have PTC on its line.
December 10, 2012
UTA resumed FrontRunner service between Ogden and Pleasant View, as part of its overall service between Ogden, Salt Lake City, and Provo. Service was to include one trip departing Pleasant View for Provo in the morning and one return trip from Provo to Pleasant View in the evening. No transfer to a second train will be required. (UTA Press release; Ogden Standard Examiner, October 14, 2012)
September 6, 2011
The FrontRunner service between Ogden and Pleasant View, making four round trips per day, was replaced beginning on Tuesday September 6, 2011 with direct UTA bus service, making 17 round trips per day. The rail service was limited by the fact that UTA did not own the tracks. The new bus service would also allow stops in-between the end points. (UTA Press release; broken link; https://www.letsrideuta.com/tag/front-runner/)
January 26, 2009
UTA FrontRunner service between Ogden and Pleasant View was increased from one trip in the morning, and one trip in the afternoon, to two trips in the morning and two trips in the afternoon. (Deseret News, January 25, 2009, "Monday")
September 29, 2008
UTA's FrontRunner began service between Ogden and Pleasant View, a distance of six miles. Completion of this portion of the line was delayed when Union Pacific workers were diverted to repair tracks damaged by a landslide near Oakridge, Oregon. UTA bus service was used between Ogden and Pleasant View until September 29, 2008, when the track improvements were complete. Union Pacific limited FrontRunner to one southbound train in the morning and one northbound in the evening after the Pleasant View station opened to rail traffic. Riders were required to transfer from one train to another in Ogden. In January 2009 this was increased to three trains for each morning and evening, with one running straight through in each direction, though the other two round trips require transfers between trains. (UTA Frontrunner article on Wikipedia)
May 5, 2008
Utah Transit Authority obtained 'quiet zone' status for FrontRunner corridor -- The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) launched service on its 38-mile FrontRunner commuter-rail line last week. Now, the entire 38-mile corridor between Salt Lake City and Ogden has been designated a quiet zone -- the longest in the country, according to the authority. UTA completed safety improvements at all crossings along the corridor to prevent cars from entering a crossing when the gates are lowered. The authority wanted to eliminate train horns because it will be operating more than 60 trains a day. (Progressive Railroading, May 6, 2008)
April 26, 2008
Opening day for UTA's FrontRunner commuter rail between Salt Lake City and Ogden. (UTA press release dated April 26, 2008)
April 25, 2008
Utah's FrontRunner Joins U.S. Passenger Rail Ranks -- Add FrontRunner as the latest U.S. commuter rail entity in daily operation, following its long-anticipated opening Saturday, April 26, with scheduled celebrations in and around Salt Lake City. The $611 million FrontRunner line spans 44 miles, with eight stations between Pleasant View and Salt Lake City, where it connects with TRAX light rail services. (Railway Age, Rail Industry News)
FrontRunner is offering free rides to the public through April 30. After that, monthly passes will cost $145, with passes interchangeable with Utah Transit Authority express bus services. UTA is projecting about 5,900 daily riders initially, rising to 13,000 by 2020.
Utah Transit Authority awarded a contract to Wabtec Corp. subsidiary MotivePower, Inc. for an additional 10 MPXpress diesel-electric commuter locomotives, bringing the fleet to 21 units. The $31 million contract includes four years of maintenance services on all units. MotivePower will provide on-site labor and management at UTA's Salt Lake City facility. It will develop work scopes for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and manage material requirements. The 10-unit option is to be manufactured in Boise, Idaho, with delivery in 2010. UTA's new commuter rail service operates between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah. The new locomotives are needed for a southern extension between Salt Lake City and Provo, planned for completion in 2010. (Railway Age, March 2008, page 7)
Construction is complete on the 44-mile Weber County-Salt Lake City commuter rail project; it will open this Spring with 21 MotivePower MPXpress locomotives, 22 Bombardier bilevels, and 15 refurbished ex NJT Comet Is. Thirty ex-Metra gallery cars may be refurbished. (Railway Age, March 2008, page G17)
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)
January 24, 2008
From Progressive Railroading magazine, January 24, 2008:
The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) recently won three awards for its FrontRunner commuter-rail project.
Intermountain Contractor magazine recognized FrontRunner as the best transportation project and best concrete project in the intermountain region for 2007. And the Associated General Contractors of Utah named FrontRunner the "Transportation Project of the Year."
Scheduled to open this spring, the 44-mile FrontRunner commuter-rail line will run from Salt Lake City to Weber County.
In addition, the general contractors association named Tony Foster, a Salt Lake Commuter Rail Constructors contractor, as superintendent of the year in the highway/transportation division. Foster is the superintendent for UTA's Gateway Hub-TRAX extension.
August 15, 2007
UTA began running test trains along the entire route between Salt Lake City and Pleasant View. Throughout the day, trains stopped at Farmington Station, where representatives from UTA were on hand to answer questions. (UTA press release dated August 14, 2007; Trains magazine, November 2007, page 28)
August 6, 2007
A "Golden Spike" ceremony was held to mark the formal completion of FrontRunner North. The ceremony was actually the installation of the final rail clip, that holds the rail to the concrete ties, and the completion of the last thermite weld that tied two ribbons of weled rail together. (KSL.com, August 6, 2007, "today") (Location of ceremony was not given.)
June 15, 2007
From Railway Age magazine, June 15, 2007:
Utah Transit Authority to receive first installment of federal FrontRunner grant -- The U.S. Department of Transportation has released the first $80 million installment of a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) for the Utah Transit Authority's (UTA) FrontRunner commuter-rail line. UTA obtained approval for the $611 million FFGA in July. The grant will fund 80 percent of the Weber County-to-Salt Lake City line, which is scheduled to open in spring 2008. Construction is more than 70 percent complete and next month, UTA plans to begin testing vehicles that will operate on the line.
January 5, 2007
UTA Number 1, the first Frontrunner locomotive, was released by Wabtec's MotivePower factory In Boise, Idaho. (Trainorders.com, January 5, 2007)
The January 2007 issue of Railway Age's Transit Update had the following news item:
The Salt Lake City Tribune called Dec. 19 "a historic day for passenger rail in Salt Lake County." That was the day Salt Lake County and municipal leaders "shrugged off bullying from the Utah Legislature" and agreed to build two new TRAX light rail lines (the West Valley City and the West Jordan/South Jordan lines), and a Front Runner commuter rail line through Salt Lake County with $2.5 billion from a quarter-cent sales tax increase ($104 annually for the average taxpayer) that won approval with 64% of the vote in the Nov. 7 elections. The move freed up money from prior tax funding to build TRAX extensions to the Salt Lake City International Airport and to Draper. All of the light rail extensions are expected to be running in seven to 10 years. "The political journey has been ugly, but the destination looks beautiful," commented the Tribune.
The same magazine also noted that Bombardier was set to deliver 10 bilevel commuter cars to UTA's commuter rail network.
November 3, 2006
UTA marked November 3, 2006 as the point that Frontrunner commuter rail was 50 percent complete, a day some employees and contractors have named as "Half-Done Day". A press conference was held at the Warm Springs Facility, and a press tour was held at Farmington Station, including a ride on the completed route between Farmington and Kaysville.
June 21, 2006
From the NavSite Transportation blog (broken link):
Utah's Commuter Rail Project Is On Track
This is awesome news for tens of thousands of Utah commuters as the State receives what is arguably the biggest transportation grant ever. Less pollution, less delays and a streamlined train ride, for people moving from city to city, will make the whole corridor a lot more enjoyable.
Salt Lake City area commuters got a big boost as U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta sealed an agreement with the Utah Transit Authority for $489 million in federal funding for the "FrontRunner" Weber County-to-Salt Lake City Commuter Rail line.
The money will be used to build the new 44 mile commuter rail line that is expected to carry almost 12,000 weekday passengers taking nearly 6,000 cars off the roads everyday Mineta said during a visit to the Farmington Station construction site this afternoon.
"Because it runs parallel to I-15, this rail line offers a common-sense solution to highway congestion to and from Salt Lake City," Mineta said. "And taking more cars off the road during rush hours will help keep people and products moving through Salt Lake City safely and on time, no matter which path they choose."
The Full Funding Grant Agreement represents the federal government's commitment to provide funding for the project, Mineta said. The funds will be allocated over a seven year period from 2006 through 2012.
It allows construction to continue on the new commuter rail line, which will provide service from Pleasant View to the existing Salt Lake City Intermodal Terminal in downtown Salt Lake City, with stops in Salt Lake, Weber and Davis counties.
The line's downtown terminal will provide commuter rail passengers a direct connection for commuter rail, light rail, and passenger rail with UTA buses and Greyhound intercity bus service. Feeder buses will provide transportation from the terminal to local business and residential areas.
The grant, the largest award given to the state for a single project, will allow more workers to get to Salt Lake City's booming businesses, Mineta said.
UTA plans to begin operating the line in November 2008, with service at 20-minute intervals during peak periods and every 40 minutes during off-peak periods. At startup, it will serve 6,100 people a day, and up to 12,500 people daily by 2025.
June 12, 2006
UTA ordered it first locomotives:
Powering Up -- Utah, California agencies place joint locomotive order with MotivePower -- Purchasing rolling stock can set a transit agency back several million dollars. So, some agencies are teaming up to acquire cars and locomotives. Case in point: Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) recently signed a joint $60 million contract with Wabtec Corp. subsidiary MotivePower Inc. to provide 11 MPXpress® locomotives to each agency.
To be delivered to UTA in 2007 and SCRRA in 2008, the locomotives will be built at MotivePower's Boise, Idaho, facility. The units will feature higher-horsepower engines, better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions compared with the agencies' current fleets. The locomotives also will include microprocessor controls and meet new American Public Transportation Association crash worthiness and safety standards.
The contract includes options for an additional 45 units costing $120 million that could be exercised by UTA, SCRRA, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority or Northstar Corridor commuter-rail authority. (Trainorders.com, June 12, 2006)
Construction is proceeding along UP's line between Kaysville and Centerville. UP realigned trackage in Farmington to allow the addition of new tracks for UTA's FrontRunner commuter rail, moving Track No. 2 (the west track) to the inside of the curve. During mid and late April 2006, UP also began the installation of new signal bridges to accommodate the new triple track, replacing the existing trackside signals on the existing double track. The first new signal bridge was at Centerville, with others at Glovers Lane (about Mile Post 794) and Shepard Lane (about Mile Post 801).
May 3, 2006
The first rail was laid for UTA's Frontrunner North; the location was part of the Kaysville siding adjacent to Interstate 15 about midway between Kaysville and the Burton Lane overcrossing.
March 29, 2006
Workers began unloading welded rail for UTA's Frontrunner. The first quarter-mile long "sticks" were unloaded along UP's tracks between Farmington and Shepard Lane. (Davis County Clipper, March 31, 2006)
The following comes from a UTA press release:
FrontRunner's First Rail Arrives -- Fifteen miles of recycled-steel rail will become part of the 44-mile track -- Kaysville - The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) received the first shipment of rail for its FrontRunner commuter rail line today. The rail arrived via freight rail car in quarter-mile lengths, weighing 1,500 tons. UTA received 50 "sticks" of rail from LB Foster, a supplier from Pueblo, Colorado. The rail left Colorado on special freight cars modified to carry the extended rail lengths through mountain passes of Utah. Much of the rail was manufactured from recycled automobiles and other salvaged materials. The steel rail was unloaded Wednesday and will later be welded together forming continuous rails from Ogden to Salt Lake City. Having the quarter-mile sections of rail gives construction crews an advantage over welding smaller sections and will provide a quiet, seamless ride once commuter trains begin running in mid-2008. FrontRunner construction is ahead of schedule with 25 percent of the project under construction and 20 percent of the project complete. The 44-mile line is scheduled for completion in mid-2008. It is estimated that 5,900 daily passengers will board FrontRunner at eight stations from Pleasant View in Weber County to the Salt Lake City intermodal hub. FrontRunner will be pulled by diesel electric locomotives to Salt Lake City and pushed back to Pleasant View. UTA has ordered 12 cab cars from Bombardier. The cars are currently being manufactured in Thunder Bay, Canada and will arrive in Utah later this year. Currently, UTA has 30 used passenger cars from METRA in Chicago, which will be refurbished for use once construction is complete in 2008.
March 24, 2006
Motive Power International of Boise, Idaho, is building 11 new commuter locomotives under an order from Utah Transit Authority. Seven locomotives are for Orange County Transit Authority in southern California, with the other four locomotives being for UTA's new Frontrunner. The Orange County locomotives were "tacked" onto the UTA Frontrunner order to reduce the per-unit costs for both organizations' new locomotives. (SCRRA - Southern California Regional Rail Authority - board meeting, March 24, by way of Trainorders.com, April 1, 2006)
March 8, 2006
Utah Transit Authority announced the FrontRunner name and the paint scheme to be used for its new commuter rail, running 44 miles along the Wasatch Front, north from Salt Lake City to Pleasant View in north Weber County, north of Ogden. The line is under construction at several locations between Salt Lake City and Ogden, including a flyover in Ogden to get the FrontRunner trains from UP's Bridge Junction, up and over UP's Ogden wye, to Ogden Union Station. The FrontRunner name was chosen to match the 'Wasatch Front' and be synonymous with speed, reliability and movement for commuter rail from Weber County to Salt Lake - and eventually to Utah County. (UTA press release)
The FrontRunner name was licensed from its owner TTX, Inc., a Chicago-based operator of rail cars. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 9, 2008) (Note the upper case 'R' in the name, which is the version that is the registered service mark.)
At its crossing of the Weber River, at the point that Union Pacific calls Bridge Junction, the UTA mainline is along the south side of UP's mainline from Salt Lake City. The incline of the UTA line from the west rises to the point where it crosses the river, and is at the elevated level of the flyover, using the same bridge to cross both the river and the UP mainline. The UTA line crosses to a large fill, then by way of a second bridge, crosses the UP north-south double-track mainline and yard tracks, then is lowered to ground level to pass west of Ogden Union Station. The large fill for the flyover is on top of the former location of UP's Ogden roundhouse. By March 2006, the construction work was still focused on the fills and embankments, and not yet on the flyover bridges themselves. Also by March 2006, the new line was nearing completion between Kaysville and Centerville.
According to the March 2006 issue of Railway Age, UTA's commuter rail project had received $22.91 million in Fiscal Year 2005 and previous funding, $8.82 million in FY2006 funding, and had requested $80 million in FY2007 funding. The $581 million, 44-mile line is scheduled to open in 2008 and will have eight stations. The line will use 12 Bombardier bilevels and 30 ex-Metra gallery cars. (Railway Age, March 2006)
January 23, 2006
Since the July start, SLCRC has brought two miles of right-of-way to finished grade and installed 25 percent of the drainage. By the end of 2005, the contractor had completed a fill in Ogden that was 1,500 feet long by 40 feet high connecting two bridges with 200,000 cubic yards of earth. (Rocky Mountain Construction, January 23, 2006)
October 26, 2005
UTA awarded contracts to L. B. Foster Co., and its CXT, Inc., subsidiary to furnish 11,000 tons of steel rail, and 110,000 concrete ties, to be used along its under-construction 43-mile commuter rail line between Salt Lake City and Ogden. The rail was to be shipped in November, and the tie deliveries were to start in January. (Deseret News, October 26, 2005) (11,000 tons of steel rail equates to 93.98 miles, at 133 pounds per yard, or 46.9 miles of railroad line.)
UTA began construction of the fill for its one-mile flyover in Ogden. The flyover includes one bridge, known as the "South Crossing" that crosses over both the Weber River, and Union Pacific's mainline tracks between Salt Lake City and Omaha. A second bridge, known as the "North Crossing" crosses over UP's mainline between Omaha and its connection with the former Southern Pacific line to Oakland, as well as several yard tracks that lay west of Ogden Union Station. (Date from Deseret News, December 6, 2005)
Utah Transit Authority placed a $29 million order with Bombardier for 12 bilevel commuter cars, with an option for 23 more. Scheduled for delivery between June and October 2006, the cars will be used in the first phase of service between North Weber County and Salt Lake City. (Railway Age, September 2005)
August 30, 2005
Groundbreaking ceremony for UTA's Frontrunner North was held at UTA's Warm Springs Rail Facility (the former Union Pacific Salt Lake City diesel shop, sold to UTA in 2003). A ceremonial "first spike" was driven, and visitors were able to tour a Bombardier "BiLevel" rail passenger car from New Mexico, which was also building its own commuter rail line known as "Rail Runner." Speakers at the ceremony included Governor Jon Huntsman, Senator Bob Bennett, Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jim Matheson, Davis County Commissioner Dannie McConkie, and UTA General Manager John Inglish. (UTA press release dated August 29, 2005; Deseret News, August 31, 2005; Davis County Clipper, September 1, 2005)
August 22, 2005
Work began at the Parrish Lane overcrossing in Centerville, that would widen the pathway for the UTA commuter rail track by removing a portion of the southbound on- and off-ramps. This work at Centerville started with the placement of a large boom crane for the driving of sheet piling that would stabilize the embankment. The contractor doing the embankment work was Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Co. of Draper, Utah. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 19, 2005, "Monday")
August 11, 2005
Work was under way in three locations along the FrontRunner North line. One section was at Kaysville, another was at Clinton, and the third was in Ogden, where crews were preparing for construction of the flyover that was to take commuter rail tracks over Union Pacific tracks. A small building on the site in Ogden had been demolished the previous week. (Deseret News, August 11, 2005)
Initial site preparation for the Utah Transit Authority's first commuter rail line gets under way this summer in the wake of the Federal Transit Agency releasing a Letter of No Prejudice for the $582 million project. UTA is hopeful that a Full Funding Grant Agreement will be signed this fall for the 44-mile line linking Salt Lake City with Pleasant View. Revenue service is planned in 2008. (Railway Age, August 2005)
August 1, 2005
Work began on UTA's Salt Lake Commuter Rail system, south of Kaysville and parallel to Union Pacific's mainline and adjacent to I-15. Phase 1 included work to add a third track adjacent to and east of UP's double track mainline. (Deseret News, July 30, 2005, "as of Monday")
There were a few minor delays as UTA coordinated with Union Pacific to have construction crews safely work immediately adjacent to UP's tracks along most of the route. In the mean time, work started immediately at areas where workers were more than 50 feet from Union Pacific tracks. Work began in late July for the removal of brush and weeds, known as "grubbing," along a stretch between Clinton and Roy, and a stretch at Kaysville, where a spur to the LDS church's welfare grain storage facility was demolished.
July 12, 2005
UTA received final federal authority, known as a "Letter of No Prejudice," a milestone which would allow UTA and its contractors to begin work and procure materials, and put out bids for equipment for the Salt Lake City to Ogden commuter rail project. (Deseret News, July 13, 2005, "announced Tuesday")
The following comes from the January 23, 2006 issue of Rocky Mountain Construction magazine:
In July 2005, construction started on the first phase of this long-term transportation system. A $200-million contract for Weber County to Salt Lake Commuter Rail, Project Number UT03-011V, was awarded to Salt Lake Commuter Rail Constructors. SLCRC, a joint venture partnership between Stacy & Witbeck Inc. (51 percent) of Alameda, California, and Herzog Contracting (49 percent) of St. Joseph, Missouri, functions as the construction manager/general contractor for the project. Stacey & Witbeck had prior local experience with urban light rail projects for UTA in downtown Salt Lake City.
The scope of this first phase project includes site prep and storm drainage along 44 miles of right-of-way, track installation, an intermodal transit facility in Salt Lake City, and eight park-and-ride sites. The local office of Parsons Transportation Group was responsible for design. Scheduled completion date is July 2008.
One of the major challenges on the job is storm drainage. The existing right-of-way has established drainage patterns that cannot be altered. To drain the new railbed, existing pipes must be extended and new pipes must be tied into existing structures. SLCRC found several problems with existing pipes -- many were inaccessible, non-functional or in poor condition. As a result, installation of nearly all new drainage improvements require field reconnaissance and design adjustment before they can be completed.
Grading and shaping for the new railbed is progressing smoothly. Heavy equipment operations are carefully planned to meet the challenges of the linear site -- a narrow 25-foot-wide corridor with limited access points along the 44-mile length. Outside the rail right-of-way, clearing and grading operations are in progress at the park-and-ride sites.
May 4, 2005
UTA received its final "Record of Decision" from the Federal Transit Agency. The record of decision letter was the end of a three-year review process, and comes after the final approval and acceptance of the UTA's plan to build a commuter rail system between Salt Lake City and Weber County. (UTA press release dated May 4, 2005; Deseret News, May 5, 2005, "announced Wednesday")
Utah Transit Authority selected Commuter Rail Constructors (CRC) as construction management/general contractor for a planned commuter railroad from Weber County to Salt Lake City, after examining five proposals. CRC is a joint venture of Stacy and Witbeck, Inc., and Herzog Contracting Corp. The first phase of the contract, worth about $525,000, is for preconstruction services -- "working with UTA, project designers, and project stakeholders to develop a cost-effective construction plan," according to the agency. UTA expects to start the commuter rail service in 2007. (Railway Age, April 2004)
September 17, 2003
UTA and Union Pacific signed the final contracts for UTA to purchase UP's former Salt Lake City diesel shop, located at 900 North and 500 West. The building was completed in August 1955 and was closed by UP in June 1998. The following is from UTA's press release:
Salt Lake City -- Utah Transit Authority (UTA) today announced that it has closed on the purchase of Union Pacific Railroad's rail maintenance facility, located near 800 North Beck Street. To mark the occasion, UTA unveiled a large new sign atop the facility, replacing the Union Pacific logo with its own.
"Acquiring this facility is a significant milestone for UTA, setting the stage for decades of future rail operations," said Michael Allegra, UTA Chief Capital Development Officer. "This building is key to the development of a commuter rail system and will serve as the primary maintenance location for our rail locomotives and passenger cars."
In addition to housing its future commuter rail fleet, UTA may use the facility to maintain and service its growing number of light rail vehicles.
The 250,000 square foot building, which has been unoccupied for 4-5 years, includes several rail maintenance tracks and pits as well as three large cranes designed to move locomotives. During its heyday in the early 20th century, the facility was one of the largest in the country, with over 30 locomotives serviced there each day.
The rail maintenance facility was part of UTA's 2002 purchase of 175 miles of railroad corridors between Payson and Brigham City. "Acquiring this building as part of that deal is an invaluable investment for our community," said Allegra. "Securing or building rail facilities of this size is always a major challenge for transit agencies as their rail programs expand and grow."
The facility, which will ultimately provide for the operation of commuter rail between Payson and Brigham City, is physically located along the corridor for the first phase of commuter rail between Weber County and downtown Salt Lake City. Currently in the environmental process, this phase of commuter rail is tentatively scheduled to begin service in late-2007.
(ed. note: The diesel shop was completed in 1955, and the number of locomotives serviced at its time of peak usage in the mid 1970s was more in the range of 75-100 per day. The shop replaced a large steam locomotive roundhouse that was built in 1907. During 1914, the roundhouse serviced 53 locomotives per day, and as late as 1948, the roundhouse serviced 20-25 steam locomotives per day, in addition to 40-50 diesel locomotives. It was a busy place, and at its peak UTA usage, it will still be a mere shadow of its former self.)
The rail and ties of the D&RGW line between Salt Lake City and Ogden were removed. The line was sold to Utah Transit Authority in May 2002, with UTA announcing plans in May 2005 to convert the former rail line into it a trail. (email from Larry Deppe, July 18, 2003; Deseret Evening News, May 24, 2005)
May 22, 2002
Utah Transit Authority received approval from the federal Surface Transportation Authority to purchase the following properties from Union Pacific, for use as part of a commuter rail project:
- Total of 62.77 miles
- Salt Lake Subdivision: milepost 754.31 in Bountiful, to milepost 778.00 in Ogden (former D&RGW mainline)
- Salt Lake Subdivision: 20 to 35-foot portion of right of way from milepost 782.48 in Salt Lake City, to milepost 818.05 in Ogden (adjacent to UP mainline)
- Provo Industrial Lead: milepost P-775.23 at Point of the Mountain, to milepost P-762.00 at Hardy (UP mainline)
- Provo Subdivison: 20 to 35-foot portion of right of way from milepost 705.71 at Lakota Junction, to milepost 729.29 near Riverton, and from milepost 729.50 near Riverton to milepost 745.50 in Salt Lake City (adjacent to former D&RGW mainline).
- Sharp Subdivision: milepost P-752.41 in Provo, to milepost P-757.25 at Lakota Junction (UP mainline)
- Sharp Subdivision: 20 to 35-foot portion of right of way from milepost 745.82 in Spanish Fork, to milepost P-749.99 in Provo, and from milepost P-750.81 in Provo to milepost P-752.41 in Provo (adjacent to UP mainline)
- Tintic Industrial Lead: from milepost 0.00 in Springville, to milepost 13.06 in Payson (former D&RGW Tintic Branch)
- Sugar House Spur: from milepost 0.00 at Roper, to milepost 2.74 in Sugar House (former D&RGW Sugar House Branch)
- Bingham Industrial Lead: from milepost 6.60 at Bagley, to milepost 11.81 (former D&RGW Bingham Branch)
- Bingham Industrial Lead: 20 to 35-foot portion of right of way from milepost 0.00 to milepost 6.60 (former D&RGW Bingham Branch)
- Consummation of sale to occur on or about May 30, 2002.
- UTA is acquiring tracks for future passenger operations, and does not intend to conduct freight operations.
- (Surface Transportation Board, STB Finance Docket No. 34170; Utah Transit Authority–Acquisition Exemption–Certain Assets Of Union Pacific Railroad Company; Decided: May 17, 2002)
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.
The success of the light-rail line has emboldened the Utah Transit Authority to authorize not only further light rail extensions, but commuter-rail service to connect Ogden with Salt Lake City, later to be extended farther north and south. A tax increase to pay for it was authorized by voters in three counties last November.
Union Pacific has agreed to let UTA build a third track along its busy Salt Lake City-Ogden main line and to allow commuter trains to use existing tracks between Salt Lake City and Payson, south of Provo. A new downtown Salt Lake City depot will be needed, since neither the UP nor the former D&RGW depot is suitable. The ambitious commuter-rail scheme may take years to pan out, but Utah seems determined to recreate almost every foot of its previously abandoned interurban empire. (Trains magazine, June 2001, page 68)
The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) is reported to have reached an agreement in principle with Union Pacific to buy access to the railroad's rights-of-way between Brigham City and Payson for $103 million. The agreement would permit UTA to put commuter trains on UP tracks between Ogden and Brigham City, where freight traffic is light, and build its own commuter line in UP's more-heavily-trafficked Salt Lake City-Ogden corridor. It would also open the way for further commuter rail development and extension of UTA's Trax light rail system. UTA says it can raise $59 million of the needed funds if the state puts up $44 million. (Railway Age, April 2001)
February 5, 2001
UP reached an agreement with UTA that allowed UTA to share a 20-foot corridor adjacent to UP's mainline on the condition that UTA acquire a "fee interest" in the UP's mainline corridor between Ogden and Provo. The corridor was not uniform in width, and for UTA to acquire a consistent width for its own tracks, it would have to acquire small strips of additional land from 189 property owners in 60 jurisdictions by way of eminent domain. Senate Bill 256, then before the Utah legislature, would grant UTA the needed power of eminent domain and condemnation to proceed with the needed acquisitions. (Utah League of Cities and Towns, Meeting Minutes, February 19, 2001)
October 17, 2000
UTA and UP ran a test and demonstration train from Salt Lake City to Ogden during the evening rush hour. The purpose was to show local politicians and residents the advantages (79 mph speed compared to adjacent I-15 commuters) and disadvantages of commuter rail. The capacity restrictions of UP's double track line was shown when the demonstration train had to wait in a passing siding at Clearfield while a southbound coal train left Ogden and slowly moved to the meeting point at Clearfield. The equipment used came from Sounder service in Seattle. (Salt Lake Tribune, October 18, 2000)
February 11, 1998
Commuter Rail Preview (Pacific RailNews, May 1998, page 30):
Four Bombardier bilevel cars and two locomotives were borrowed by the UTA to stage a preview of a future commuter rail network around Salt Lake City. The equipment, owned by Altamont Commuter Express in central California, made a brief stop in the Salt Lake Valley on February 11 for a static display at the former Rio Grande Depot and a single round trip for VIPs over Union Pacific to Lehi. The train reached speeds of 65 mph to 75 mph during much of the hour-long journey. All expenses were covered by Bombardier, which is hoping to land an order from the UTA if it is able to fund an ambitious commuter rail network now in the planning stage. The coaches were being shipped from Bombardier's Thunder Bay, Ontario, plant, and the locomotives came from the Boise Locomotive Co. in Idaho.
February 11, 1998
Two new locomotives built for Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) were borrowed by UTA as a demonstration before they were delivered to ACE in California. The locomotives were built by Boise Locomotive in Boise, Idaho, and known as model F40PH-3 locomotives. (Locomotive Notes II, Number 201, March-April 1998, page 8, reported by Ryan Ballard)
The following comes from the January 23, 2006 issue of Rocky Mountain Construction magazine:
The concept for the Salt Lake City Rapid Transit System (SLCRT) was first formulated in 1996 when studies by the Utah Transit Authority recommended the need for public transportation along the Wasatch Front. A 30-year long-range transportation plan was created to ultimately connect Payson with Brigham City. Commuter rail was prescribed as the preferred form of transportation, with a suggested alignment paralleling the I-15 corridor.
Four years passed, and the project moved slowly. Then in November 2000, Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties passed a sales tax increase specifically to fund transit. In January 2002, UTA revealed an agreement to purchase 175 miles of rail corridors from Union Pacific Railroad -- the largest geographic right-of-way acquisition in the United States by a transit authority. By the summer of that year, the complex process of environmental impact studies had begun. In September 2002, the terms of the right-of-way purchase were finalized.
Right from the start, UTA determined that involving local communities in project development would build future ridership and insure profitable continuing operation. In November 2002, a series of scoping meetings was held, initializing public involvement. The organization also set a goal to make SLCRT the most cost-effective system in the country, offering riders the highest quality experience at the lowest cost to the public.