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TRAX Sandy Line

This page was last updated on May 26, 2013.

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The Sandy TRAX line is a 15-mile light rail line connecting downtown Salt Lake City with the communities of South Salt Lake, Murray, Midvale, and Sandy. The line was built on the former roadbed of Union Pacific's line between Salt Lake City and Provo, which UTA purchased in March 1993. To continue freight operations, the line was leased to a shortline called Salt Lake City Southern, until construction of the light rail line was begun in April 1997.

Construction began in April 1997, and the Sandy Line was completed and opened to the public on December 3, 1999.

The Sandy line was extended for a distance of 0.9 mile to serve a new Salt Lake Central intermodal center on Salt Lake City's west side, where Amtrak, UTA's TRAX light rail and FrontRunner commuter rail, and Greyhound buses could all come together.

Construction of the extension to Salt Lake Central intermodal center began in January 2007, and was completed and opened to the public on April 26, 2008, the same day that FrontRunner service to Ogden was opened to the public.

The following comes from a summary by the Federal Transit Administration, March 2, 1998:

In the summer of 1984 the governor of Utah set in motion the development of a long-range transit plan for the Wasatch Front (Salt Lake Valley, Utah). During the 1984 to 1986 time frame transit planners investigated the use of the Union Pacific Company (UP) railroad corridor for transit in the I-15/State Street alternative analysis study. During 1987 there were a number of actions regarding the possible purchase or lease and shared use of the UP ROW for transit purposes.

During the period from mid 1988 to mid 1990, meetings, discussions and reviews were held addressing major issues concerning use, operations, title, environmental conditions, freight customers, tracking rights, and freight/passenger rail options. In August 1990, an initial draft of a terms and conditions proposal for acquisition was prepared by UTA. Additional drafts were prepared during 1990, along with reviews of freight/passenger operations, ICC issues, and passenger service compatibility. In the first half of 1991, reviews of operating plan options for shippers, UTA track plans, financial issues and operations were addressed which lead to a further refinement of the terms and conditions in mid 1991.

During 1992, acquisition activities were undertaken which included overhead tracking rights, hazardous waste consideration, meetings with shippers, and title and process issues necessary to resolve the acquisition of the right-of-way. These actions culminated with the refinement of options related to environmental conditions, title search and other issues needed to develop acquisition documents, a request for letter of no prejudice, and UTA Board Approval to proceed. In the August to November 1992 time frame, meetings were conducted with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to review the acquisition agreement.

In March of 1993, the UTA acquired approximately 25 miles of railroad Right-of-Way from the UP. The acquisition process took almost nine years to complete.
Finance Docket No. 32186, Utah Transit Authority -- Acquisition Exemption-Line of Union Pacific Railroad Company

At time of purchase, UP reserved a freight operating easement on subsidiary of Rail Tex. UP contracted with a short-line railroad; the Salt Lake City Southern Railroad that would operate on the Right-of-Way purchased by UTA to provide local service to the railroad freight customers. UTA entered into a coordination agreement with the short-line railroad to provide for administration of the short-line's operation on the UTA owned Right-of-Way. This was executed because the freight customers had rights to common carrier service. However, UTA desired to avoid coming under the jurisdiction of the ICC, and this was part of the mechanism which UTA used in avoiding becoming a railroad. This strategy also supports the objective that the UTA should avoid becoming a railroad under railroad labor law. This was thought to have important implications of labor management, including employee liability entitlement. The instrument of conveyance of the property was a Special Warranty Deed and Quit Claim Deed.


[Most recent event listed first]

July 8, 2011
The Sandy Line, with its extension to the intermodal center at Salt Lake Central, and its not-yet-completed extension to Draper, was designated as the Blue Line on July 8, 2011. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 9, 2011)

April 26, 2008
The extension of UTA's TRAX line to serve the Salt Lake Central intermodal center was opened for public use, on the same day that FrontRunner service started between Salt Lake City and Ogden. A special ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on April 18, 2008, to officially open extension to the Salt Lake Central Station, adjacent to the Salt Lake City Intermodal Hub and UTA's Salt Lake City FrontRunner commuter rail terminal.

The TRAX extension project has extended the TRAX Sandy/Salt Lake line from the Arena Station to the Salt Lake Central Station at the Intermodal Hub, located at 300 South and 600 West. All Sandy/Salt Lake and University trains will now serve the Salt Lake Central Station, offering seven-minute frequencies to and from FrontRunner. The extension added three new TRAX stations to the system: Planetarium Station, Old Greek Town Station and Salt Lake Central Station. Salt Lake Central Station at the Intermodal Hub will be the epicenter for public transportation in Salt Lake County. It will bring together TRAX, FrontRunner, UTA bus service, Greyhound bus service and Amtrak train service all in one location. (Railway Track & Structures, April 17, 2008; Salt Lake Tribune, April 18, 2008)

April 14-15, 2007; April 22-23, 2007; January 26-27, 2008
UTA suspended service between 7200 South and 10000 South over these three weekends in April 2007 and January 2008, to allow work to progress as part of the replacement of the State Street undercrossing at 7900 South. This was the second of two closures while the bridge was being replaced. Previously, this was a single-track crossing for the light rail line, and was a bottleneck along UTA's double track railroad. The new bridge is a full double-track crossing of State Street, and allows for much improved and safer operation of the TRAX trains. The bridge and undercrossing were originally built in 1935. (part from Salt Lake Tribune, January 25, 2008; Daily Herald, April 14, 2007)

The State Street undercrossing of the railroad tracks at 7800 South was completed as a grade separation project in 1935; approved by the Utah State Public Utilities Commission on March 25, 1935, case number 1725, project NRH-119-H(1935). Construction to replace the bridge began in spring 2006, after public hearings were held in June 2005. (part from Deseret News, June 23, 2005; Salt Lake Tribune, June 24, 2005)

January 8, 2007
UTA began construction of the extension to the Salt Lake Intermodal Hub, where TRAX light rail trains will connect with UTA's Frontrunner commuter rail. The hub is located at 250 South on 600 West. The extension will begin at the end-of-line stop at the EnergySolutions Arena (formerly The Delta Center), proceed south along 400 West to 200 South, then west along 200 South to 600 West. The extension is projected to be completed and in service by the time Frontrunner trains start running in early 2008. Included in the construction are two new TRAX stations: one at 250 South along 400 West, and another at 550 West along 200 South. (Deseret News, January 4, 2007, "Monday"; KCPW Radio, January 5, 2007)

August 28, 2006
UTA opened the new Sandy Expo station at 9400 South. The new station is a drop-off station, rather than a formal park-and-ride station like all the other TRAX stations, and allows riders direct access to adjacent retail stores and office buildings at Jordan Commons. (UTA press release, August 25, 2006)

UTA opened a new station on its Sandy TRAX light rail line. The new station, called Sandy Expo Station, is located at 9400 South and provides access the Salt Lake County Exposition Center, to the Jordan Commons shopping mall (including a 17-screen movie megaplex), and the Real Salt Lake professional soccer stadium. (Deseret News, August 29, 2006, "Monday")

Land for the new Sandy Expo station was purchased by Sandy City in March 2006. (Deseret News, March 25, 2006)

September 2005
Utah Transit Authority added its new 900 South Station in September 2005, the first located in a primarily residential area. (Railway Age, March 2006, page G17)

December 23, 2002
UTA began work to add a second bridge over Interstate 215, to allow a second track to be installed between its Murray Central Station (5200 South) and Fashion Place West Station (6400 South). Work was to be completed by late 2003. (Deseret News, January 10, 2003)

December 3, 1999
First day of operation for UTA's TRAX light rail. This was on a Saturday, and rides were free all day long. Regular fare service started on the following Monday December 6.

Officials estimated that throughout the whole event, there were about 25,000 riders who turned out Saturday for a free "try-it-out" ride. Due to the enormous turnout, the trains suffered mechanical difficulties which resulted in many people having to wait as long as two hours for their turn, and many not being able to ride at all. The brakes failed which resulted in a delay during which several riders got off the train and sought other ways of getting back downtown. Each car holds 300 people.

A big part of the problem was that turnout was much higher than what officials were prepared for. People were waiting at both the Downtown station and the Sandy station. They were expected to ride one way and get off to let others on. But when those who got on downtown saw the crowd in Sandy they were unwilling to get off because of the fear of not being able to get back to their cars waiting back at the station where they got on. To help ease some of that frustration, and to keep the enthusiasm up about the trains, UTA will offer another free ride day next Saturday (December 10).

Some downtown business also were unprepared for the surge of people that flowed into downtown because of the event. Lamb's restaurant owner, John Speros, said he had to turn people away so as not to give reduced service to anyone. (, Salt Lake City, December 6, 1999)

[photo and caption] VISITORS OVERWHELM TRAX -- A new Utah Transit Authority "Trax" light-rail vehicle waits in front of the old Union Pacific depot in Salt Lake City to make the first official run south to Sandy on inaugural day for the 15-mile, 16-stop line. Trax, which goes south from the capital generally following the former UP Provo Branch right-of-way, was overwhelmed by people wanting opening day free rides. The line was planned for 14,000 riders a day, but by 11 a.m., 10,000 were in lines downtown and 3000 at Sandy. At least 25,000 rode. Salt Lake City is the 17th U.S. city with light-rail transit; in about half, some "steam-railroad" alignments are utilized. (Trains, June 2001, page 68)

March 1998
Speeding Up the Line -- The contractor building Salt Lake City's TRAX light rail line claimed the downtown segment could be completed by the end of this year, six months ahead of schedule. Although not yet ready to make a public announcement, Utah Transit Authority officials are saying privately that they might open the system ahead of the scheduled inauguration date in March 2000. Contractor Gilbert Western Corp. said it is willing to work its crews overtime to complete the track-laying project downtown well before the June 15, 1999, deadline. (Pacific RailNews, April 1998, page 30)

February 27, 1998
More Cash for TRAX -- On February 27, the Federal Transit Administration announced a $63.2 million grant for continued construction of the Utah Transit Authority's TRAX light rail system. The government's generosity is prompted in part by the need to transport visitors attending the 2002 Winter Olympic games. "The impact of this project will be international in reach during the next Winter Games, showcasing America's strength by bringing people together through transportation," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater. This is the third increment of federal funding for the 15-mile line, which is planned for completion by December 2000 at an estimated cost of $312 million. (Pacific RailNews, June 1998, page 30)

November 1997
More LRT Construction -- The UTA board has approved a $21.9 million contract with Gilbert Western Corp. for light rail track and station construction in downtown Salt Lake City, part of the TRAX line to the suburb of Sandy. "This is the critical contract for completing the entire light rail program," said project manager Rick Thorpe. "We don't want the downtown torn up any longer than we have to, and it's going to be torn up for quite some time as it is." Also approved were 27 separate contracts valued at $16.8 million for the LRT maintenance facility in Midvale. (Pacific RailNews, December 1997, page 24)

November 4, 1997
Construction of the light rail line had been under way for nine months, and was about 25 percent completed. (Deseret News, November 4, 1997)

August 1997
A joint venture of Carter & Burgess, Inc., and Jacobsen Construction Co. has been selected as prime construction management consultant for Utah Transit Authority's $312 million, 15-mile TRAX light rail starter system, which will run between Sandy and downtown Salt Lake City. (Railway Age, August 1997)

June 1997
Utah Transit Authority has awarded additional contracts for the 15-mile light rail line it is building from downtown Salt Lake City to suburban Sandy. A $5.15 million contract went to Carter Burgess/Jacobson for construction management; $1.7 million to L. B. Foster for special trackwork; $4.2 million to IMPulse NC for 15 traction power substations; $3 million to CXT for 45,000 concrete ties; and $650,000 to Amcor Precast for concrete crossing panels. Already on order are 23 SD100 articulated light rail vehicles, which Siemens will supply under a $46 million contract. (Railway Age, June 1997)

April 30, 1997
Construction Contract Awarded -- A $27.9 million contract for right-of-way work on the major portion of Salt Lake City's TRAX light rail was awarded April 30. The company will prepare the right-of-way, lay rail, install grade crossings, and build station platforms on the segment between the southern terminus at Sandy and the outskirts of downtown. The Utah Transit Authority board had awarded the contract a month earlier but then disqualified the winning firm because it did not meet federal minority subcontractor requirements. Construction was due to begin in late May. Half the $312 million budget for the project has now been spent and most of the remainder is scheduled to be committed by the end of summer. (Pacific RailNews, August 1997, page 64)

April 10, 1997
Ground breaking for UTA's TRAX light rail system -- A groundbreaking ceremony for initial light rail construction in Salt Lake City was held on April 10 along an existing right-of-way between Sandy and the downtown area. The $312 million line is scheduled for completion in mid-2000. (Pacific RailNews, June 1997, page 84)

March 26, 1997
Major Contracts Awarded -- On March 26, the Utah Transit Authority board of directors approved a series of major contracts, presaging heavy construction of TRAX, the Salt Lake City light rail line. The board conditionally selected Gilbert Western Corp. to rebuild an existing railroad right-of-way from the southern end of the line in Sandy to the outskirts of downtown Salt Lake City. The contract, valued at $29.3 million, was about $14 million under budget. A few days later the board rescinded the agreement because Gilbert Western could not meet the federally mandated 15 percent minority subcontractor requirement. New bids were immediately sought. So far, after awarding contracts worth $106 million, UTA is about $23.7 million under budget because of lower-than-expected bids. The entire project was estimated to cost $312 million. (Pacific RailNews, July 1997, page 73)