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  #61  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2007, 2:53 PM
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Westside freeway favored over light rail
By Joe Baird
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 03/28/2007 06:55:34 AM MDT


Posted: 6:55 AM- WEST VALLEY CITY - Backers of the Mountain View transit corridor are accusing transportation planners of low-balling ridership projections.
They say that is happening in order to favor a competing plan to add a new westside freeway.
At a meeting yesterday to discuss transit plans for the proposed 5600 West route, Sierra Club representative Marc Heileson said that favoring freeway over light rail or buses is a disservice to the region's future.
"If they think they can justify an eight-lane freeway and put off transit for 20 years because they say nobody is going to ride it, [that] is just bad planning," Heileson said.
An environmental impact study of Mountain View is being done by the Utah Department of Transportation. So far, that plan projects the first phase of west-side freeway would be finished in 2015.
Meantime, the ongoing study suggests that transit right-of-ways will be preserved, but not developed until after 2015.
Consultants so far estimate a best-case scenario of 5,900 daily riders along Mountain View's transit corridor in 2015. Planners say that is not enough to justify putting down rails quicker than proposed.
Heileson says that ridership estimate is way off.
"It's one thing to be conservative; it's another to miss the broad side of a barn," he said. "People are riding transit. . . . The problem we have is that the citizens are way ahead of their leaders."
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  #62  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2007, 9:43 PM
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Build the Airport line first!!!
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  #63  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2007, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by i-215 View Post
The irony is that with Drapers "hard to get" attitude they're getting all the attention for TRAX. It's become almost a "ah, c'mon pleeeease? Let us spend money building infastructure in your city pleeeease???"

Versus WVC out my way, "sure bring on the TRAX." And they're responding, "hold yer horses! We'll get there when we get there!."
Good call. I thought the Draper line was the last of the 4 they were going to build. everyone wants the other 3 while Draper is complaining. Put the Draper line on the back burner while the route is being debated and start on the other 3.
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  #64  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2007, 11:26 AM
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A Total Of 192 Projects

UDOT plans major highway expansion,upgrades and repairs

Projects range from potholes to repaving

By Nicole Warburton
Deseret Morning News
Despite this week's cold snap, the Utah Department of Transportation is rolling out the orange construction barrels and preparing for a busy summer fixing state roads.


Deseret Morning News Graphic

A total of 192 projects, ranging from pothole repairs to major repaving and rehabilitation projects, are planned for Utah roads. The cost: $1.4 billion.
Because of Utah's cold winters, most road work on state highways takes place during the summer. This year will include several projects on I-15, including the $265 million I-15 NOW reconstruction project in Weber County — one of the largest projects UDOT has ever done.
In central Utah, I-15 will be reduced to one lane in each direction from Scipio, in Millard County, until about six miles north of the Juab-Millard county line. In southern Utah, work has already begun to repair I-15 from St. George to the Arizona state line.
Those are only a few of the projects scheduled this summer.
N. — UDOT Region 1
Work on the I-15 NOW reconstruction project — the state's largest road project — will continue this summer, with all-night road closures and lane restrictions scheduled.
The project extends from I-84 in Riverdale to 2700 North in Farr West. The work has been ongoing since last spring. When it's finished in 2008, a new lane will be added to I-15 in each direction.
UDOT is also adding new auxiliary lanes to I-15 from Layton to the Riverdale area. The new lanes will serve as connections between interchanges and are intended to help reduce traffic, said region director Cory Pope. Work started in February and will end this summer.
Another big project is the Legacy Parkway, which will stretch from North Salt Lake to Farmington in Davis County. Work on the highway began last year and is expected to end in 2008 "I would say that for better or worse, we're getting used to highway construction in northern Utah," Pope said.
Wasatch — Region 2
Road work will impact several local streets in Salt Lake County this year. One project will reconstruct 10600 South from I-15 to State Street. Another will reconstruct State Street from 9000 South to 10600 South.
Both will hopefully help traffic flow when they're complete, said region director Randy Park.
Beginning last month, all left turns were blocked along 10600 South, impacting access to the South Towne Mall and South Towne Auto Mall. Left turns will not be allowed until the end of April, or early May, when the project is completed. When it's done, UDOT will have fixed pavement in the area and improved sidewalks and road drainage.
State Street in the area will be expanded from five to seven lanes. Work will end this fall.
In South Jordan and Riverton, UDOT is expanding Redwood Road from 10400 South to 10600 South. Work began last year and is expected to end this fall. Lanes will be restricted and speeds reduced in the area during construction.
Other, smaller projects include a new interchange at Bangerter Highway and 3500 South. The interchange design will reduce the length of time motorists sit at a light, UDOT said. Drivers who want to turn left will be funneled across oncoming lanes of traffic to a new left-turn lane on the far side of the road.
The drivers can then turn left at the same time traffic in the oncoming lane is moving, UDOT said.
With another project at 4500 South, UDOT will replace a bridge that spans over I-215 using a technique where the bridge is built adjacent to I-215 and then installed in just two days.

Central and south — Regions 3 and 4
Several projects are planned for highways in southern and central Utah this summer. Two concrete-rehabilitation projects in central Utah will reduce the lanes on I-15 to one in each direction from Scipio, in Millard County, to about six miles north of the Juab-Millard county line.
The projects will be finished this summer and fall. They will impact traffic headed south during holiday weekends, said Dal Hawks, region 4 director.
Other projects include one in Provo Canyon, where UDOT has been working for the past two years to widen and improve the road. Motorists should expect 10-15 minute delays through the canyon, which may be closed some nights this summer, said Dave Nazare, region 3 director.
Also in the Provo-Orem area, work will resume to widen 800 North from 400 West and 100 West. Several side streets will be closed periodically, and lane restrictions will be in place on 800 North, said Nazare.
In southern Utah, work has already begun to rehabilitate I-15 from St. George to the Arizona border. On U.S. Highway 491, UDOT is adding several passing lanes that could create delays up to 20 minutes. Passing lanes will also be added to sections of U.S. 6, said Hawks.
His advice to motorists: "Be patient and drive safe."
For more information about UDOT construction projects this summer, log on to www.udot.utah.gov. Click on a link on the left side of the screen that says "projects under construction."
Additional information about road conditions and recent closures or restrictions can be found at commuterlink.utah.gov.
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  #65  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2007, 11:32 AM
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Road projects hit South Towne hard

Most access from 10600 South is being blocked

By Nicole Warburton
Deseret Morning News
One of Salt Lake County's busiest retail areas is being hit hard by road construction, with most access to the South Towne Mall and South Towne Auto Mall blocked from 10600 South.


Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
Motorists wend their way through maze of road construction at 10600 South and State Street in Sandy.

In addition, State Street from 9000 South to 10600 South has been reduced to two lanes. Orange barrels line the sides of the road, and traffic is frequently stalled, residents say.
But businesses in the area say they haven't seen a big reduction in the number of shoppers — just an increase in the grumbling about traffic.
"There have been concerns about a couple of left turns that have been restricted, but we've been educating our consumers about alternative routes," said Celeste Neil, senior property manager for the South Towne Mall. "Once they realize there are a number of different ways to get to the mall, they can plan their routes accordingly."
Work on both projects began last fall, but major closures on 10600 South didn't happen until February, said UDOT spokesman Adan Carillo. When finished this fall, State Street will have been widened from five to seven lanes. Work to rehabilitate and improve the pavement and drainage along 10600 South will end in late April or early May.
Neil said that sales numbers over the Christmas holiday were strong despite construction. "We didn't see any downturns," she said.
Sales numbers from February, when left-turns from 10600 South were restricted, haven't been calculated yet, Neil said. Left turns will not be allowed until late April or early May, when the project is finished.
UDOT officials said they are trying to educate drivers about alternatives to reach businesses near 10600 South and along State Street. The mall can be accessed on the north, from Centennial Boulevard. Motorists can also use the West Jordan Parkway. The Auto Mall can be accessed from State Street.
Randy Park, UDOT Region 2 director, said the agency has also decided to cut the construction time on 10600 South by about two months. The project was originally scheduled to go until late June.


Deseret Morning News Graphic

"It's an incredibly busy area," Park said. "The impacts on 10600 South are significant. We did hear a lot of concerns, because it's a major interchange off I-15. We have modified the scope of work on that project."
For up-to-date information about the two projects, log on to udot.utah.gov/state90-106/
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  #66  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2007, 12:00 PM
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Salt Lake County
Transit could link opposites together
UTA study is looking at linking rough part of South Salt Lake with Sugar House

By Cathy McKitrick
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 04/02/2007 04:16:09 AM MDT


Salt Lake City - Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake and UTA are going to study how to use an old UP freight line at 2200 South- if they should add TRAX, a streetcar or bus to serve Sugar House.




A future transit line, under study by the Utah Transit Authority, could one day link two very different Salt Lake Valley communities. At one end of the 1.8-mile route, a few blocks west of State Street, there is an area of South Salt Lake that some folks hesitate to frequent after dark.
At the other end, several blocks to the east, there is the charm of Sugar House's retail district, a combination of sought-after franchises and unique mom-and-pops.
In between - the dividing line between South Salt Lake and Sugar House is 500 East - the residential neighborhoods run together.
For South Salt Lake's part, the city aims to revive its west side with transit-oriented development near the light-rail station at 250 W. 2100 South. That transition has begun, and a direct rail link to Sugar House could be part of that community's revitalization.
Also sandwiched between these two destinations are South Salt Lake's city offices and Salt Lake County Government Center at the corner of 2100 South and State streets. Most of the county's 4,000 employees work there.
A few blocks northeast of the corridor, 2,500 students attend Westminster College - about 900 live on its cozy campus.
"We're the biggest employer in the Sugar House neighborhood, and we have a regular flow of commuters," says Gary Daynes, director of Westminster's Center for Civic Engagement.
Daynes estimates that 200 employees and 1,500 students make their way to the liberal-arts enclave each weekday.
At Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake's request, the Utah Transit Authority launched a study of the corridor to determine the best east-west route, somewhere between 2100 and 2700 South, and the most appropriate mode of transport.
Vehicle choice could be anything from light-rail, jazzed-up bus service, state-of-the-art streetcars or vintage trolleys.
Stacey Liddiard, president of South Salt Lake Chamber, views the study - and today's open house - as an opportunity.
"South Salt Lake residents can have a voice about what goes in there that they can actually use, rather than something that wouldn't benefit them at all," Liddiard says.
From that perspective, she believes that rubber-tire transport that travels at slow speeds and stops at every other block would best service the neighborhoods east of State Street.
Some residents whose homes border UTA's right-of-way favor rubber-tire transit on 2100 South rather than trains zipping through their backyards along UTA's rail corridor, Liddiard says.
As a business advocate, Liddiard acknowledges the advantages this east-west connection could bring.
Construction on South Salt Lake's mixed-use Market Station development is scheduled to start this summer and Liddiard views it as a future valleywide draw.
"We're hoping we can share customers with Sugar House, that people will want to stop and shop at both ends," Liddiard says.
Lynne Olson, vice chairwoman of Parley's Rails, Trails, and Tunnels Coalition (PRATT), said her nonprofit organization favors a single-track transit system along UTA's right of way.
"That would work best for us," Olson says, as it would allow for an adjacent bicycle-pedestrian path that would become part of the eight-mile Parley's Creek Corridor Trail.
In the most narrow portions of UTA's right of way - currently a former Union Pacific rail line overgrown with weeds - additional land acquisition for the rail-trail would still be required.
While homed in on the route, PRATT is less picky about the mode.
"We've been told TRAX could run on a single track in that corridor," Olson says. "Also a rubber-tire or neighborhood trolley would work just as well."
For six years, Trolley enthusiast Doug White has examined the idea of refurbishing old-time streetcars and reviving their use along this corridor.
"I'm a big fan. That style of operation and look would be a perfect fit for the community," White says.
However, his idea lacks financial backing and "the ball is in UTA's court now," he says. "I'm in standby mode right now."
Steve Hurlbut, who teaches management at Westminster, credits White as the "spark plug that got us all talking and studying this."
In late 2005, a team of Hurlbut's students analyzed White's concept and concluded it was feasible. But without an influential board of directors and serious fund-raising, it likely would go nowhere.
"I would love to see them do some kind of trolley, some slow touristy thing, and stick a bike trail on one side," Hurlbut says. "It would get rid of the blight along the corridor, provide transportation and give Sugar House one more unique feature."
Wish lists aside, Hal Johnson, UTA's engineering and construction manager for Bus Rapid Transit, says the process of defining a "locally preferred alternative" is rigorous, combining regional travel data with area demographics.
"We connect all that in a mathematical model and see what mode fits it best," Johnson says.
The cost to bankroll a project can elevate one mode or route above another. Most of the cost to operate a transit system lies in labor, not rubber and fuel, Johnson says, noting that a single operator can drive an 800-seat train or an 80-seat bus.
Unseen factors can also drive up costs - "like underground utilities you have to protect or move," Johnson says.
Once a preferred route and mode are selected, a more detailed environmental study takes place. After that, the search for funding begins.
"This is a starting point," Johnson says of the current study. "And we encourage early involvement from the public when they can have the most impact."
cmckitrick@sltrib.com
Open house today

* What's next: Utah Transit Authority-sponsored open house on the Sugar House Transit Corridor
* When: Today, 5-8 p.m.
* Where: Columbus Center, Room 106, 2531 S. 400 East, South Salt LakeWhat's it about?

* In January, the Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake initiated the Sugar House Transit Corridor Alternatives study.
* Its goal: to determine the best route and mode to move people through this area.
* The study should be completed this fall.
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  #67  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2007, 4:22 PM
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It's good to see they're moving forward with this. I would love to see an old timey trolley car on those abandoned tracks.
Does anyone know anything about this Market Station development? I haven't heard of it before.
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  #68  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2007, 5:08 PM
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That would be very cool, and you know it will drive a big renaissance for the area. The Market Station has had some posts in the SLC development thread in the past. I don't recall which page. Several have posted about it, and will probably upon reading this give us a heads-up.
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  #69  
Old Posted Apr 2, 2007, 5:29 PM
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I work for the city of south salt lake... market station is a pretty big project (for SSL) and it will include 8-10 story buildings.
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  #70  
Old Posted Apr 6, 2007, 9:57 AM
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Market Station

the website for the Market Station Project is www.cascadedev.com . it is a 13 acre redevelopment project on the old Burton Lumber Property on 22nd South State Street. It is planned to be a complete walkable urban village with the Sugarhouse Trolley connecting it to Sugarhouse and the Trax Station. It is big time and will be a great addition to the SSL neighborhoods. it looks like there will be quite a bit of redevelopment between State St and the Trax line.
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  #71  
Old Posted Apr 6, 2007, 12:10 PM
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This Sugar House Trolley and Market Station are two projects that I would really like to see come through. Hopefully, the sooner the better.

Last edited by delts145; Apr 6, 2007 at 1:16 PM.
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  #72  
Old Posted Apr 6, 2007, 1:42 PM
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Originally Posted by SLCforme View Post
Hell yeah, save southern exposure!
JK, who cares, dive bars and strip clubs will always be able to find some rundown building to occupy.

On another note.
while riding the bus yesterday I noticed that UTA is proposing a slew of rate increases over the next few years. All user fees will increase, however my two major concerns are:
1: that the proposed fare for commuter rail really IS $2.50 plus an additional $.50 for each station you go through with a max fare of $5.50. this is freakin' rediculous. that's $11 a day! you can drive for much less than that. I'm sure they are offering a monthly pass but I can't remember what that cost.
2: It appears that they want to start charging students $40 a month for a transit pass! Right now all students (at the U anyway) get a pass that is automatically paid for out of thier fees. this is completely messed up. We're students, we don't have money!

I'm not sure I am a fan of this Inglish fellow. Either that or else the state and county need to increase thier supsidies of UTA.
And they expect me to give up my car? I'd have to drive 110 miles to pay 11 dollars a day! (at $3.00/gal)
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  #73  
Old Posted Apr 6, 2007, 2:38 PM
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And they expect me to give up my car? I'd have to drive 110 miles to pay 11 dollars a day! (at $3.00/gal)

I hear ya... those rates are NOT going to get people out of their cars.. I can see commuter rail not working out so well..
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  #74  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2007, 1:19 AM
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thanks trolleyman.
that market station development looks really cool, and I like what the development company has to say about mixed use and building green. I hope it goes through and soon. I live in sugar house and drive through this area often and it is situated such that it could really be a convenient and cool place.
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  #75  
Old Posted Apr 7, 2007, 11:20 PM
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Ambitious transit and road plans released

3 studies outline more than $50 billion in projects


By Nicole Warburton
Deseret Morning News

Transportation planners released three studies Friday that outline more than $50 billion in road and transit projects needed to curb congestion throughout the state by the year 2030.
Included on the outline of needed projects: the Mountain View Corridor, I-15 in Utah County, commuter rail from Salt Lake City into Utah County, and preservation of land for a northern extension of the Legacy Parkway.
A transit line along 5600 West in Salt Lake County is also tentatively on the list — a source of frustration for transit advocates such as the Sierra Club. Planners say they are waiting for the Utah Department of Transportation to finish a study of the adjacent Mountain View Corridor before the transit line is firmly added or taken off the list.
The public can comment on all the studies over the next month.
"This is the time for residents to look at what projects are on the regional transportation plan and provide comment," Chuck Chappell, director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council, said Friday. "You the residents are using these transportation plans."
The three studies are called Draft Regional Transportation Plans and were done by UDOT, the Regional Council and Mountainland Association of Governments. The Regional Council oversees transportation planning in Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Tooele and Morgan counties. Mountainland oversees planning in Utah County.
Other groups in Cache and Washington counties have done separate plans.
Chappell, director of the Regional Council, said Friday he would encourage the public to give any input because any road or transit project that is built in the state must be on a regional plan.
In the Regional Council's proposal, $14 billion of highway projects are recommended, including interchange improvements in Davis County and enhancements to east-west roads in Salt Lake County. Those east-west fixes include widening projects and possible construction of new roads
About $16 billion in transit projects are planned, including commuter rail and the four new TRAX lines that Salt Lake County voters agreed to fund last November with a sales tax increase. Operation and maintenance costs are included in the $16 billion price tag for transit.
In Utah County, about $13 billion is planned for highways and $2.6 billion for transit. The highway plan includes fixes to several roads next to I-15. The transit plan includes commuter rail through the county.
UDOT, which does long-range planning for rural parts of the state, also has billions in recommended improvements such as passing lanes on U.S. 6.
Money for all projects included in the regional plans is not currently available, according to planners. Chappell said gas tax, sales tax and other funding increases will be needed to pay for the projects.
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  #76  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2007, 11:24 AM
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Open houses slated for long-range transit

The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 04/11/2007 01:50:34 AM MDT


A $46 billion long-range plan for roads and transit in northern Utah will be available for public comment at open houses beginning tonight in Davis County, followed by three more in Salt Lake and Utah counties. Crafted by two metropolitan planning organizations - the Wasatch Front Regional Council and Mountainland Association of Governments - the plan envisions a connected transportation network stretching from Weber County to Utah County. The effort is part of the 2030 plan that the organizations must update every four years. This revision includes measures that planners hope will reduce motorists' delays due to traffic congestion, and will direct which roads and transit lines will be built during the next 23 years. Among the plan's recommendations are raising gas taxes, building a narrower but toll-free west-side Mountain View Corridor in Salt Lake and Utah counties and widening Interstate 15 and I-80. The plan also recommends that the state buy land for a possible transit corridor near 5600 West and explains the Utah Transit Authority's proposal to build 70 miles of commuter rail and TRAX in seven years.
- Patty Henetz

Open houses

The Wasatch Front Regional Council's open houses schedule:
* Tonight, Centerville City Hall, 250 N. Main Street, 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
* May 3, Draper Elementary, 1080 E. 12660 South, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
* May 7, Weber County Government Center, Commission Chambers Breakout Room, 2380 S. Washington Boulevard, Ogden, 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The Mountainland Association of Governments open house:
* April 25, Mountainland office, 586 E. 800 North, Orem, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
* The draft plans also are available on the Web:Salt Lake, Davis and Weber Counties: www.wfrc.org; Utah County: www.mountainland.org
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  #77  
Old Posted Apr 14, 2007, 11:16 AM
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Bumping heads
Clash looms over traffic at burgeoning charter school


By Judy Fahys
The Salt Lake Tribune



Above: A long line of cars forms to pick up children at Summit Academy charter school in Draper, where there are no school buses. (Photos by Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune )

A collision is shaping up here in this once laid-back corner of the Salt Lake Valley.
Headed in one direction is the two-year-old Summit Academy, a bustling charter school on the corner of 1300 East and 132000 South that plans to double in size to 1,000 students.
Going in another direction is a group of neighbors who say that twice each school day, two-lane 132000 South is jammed with SUVs for as much as an hour as parents queue up to deliver the Summit Academy's 550 enrollees or pick them up. Neighbors fear the congestion, illegal parking, the idling cars and the ill-will will only get worse as the school expands its campus and adds another 450 students.
"We had a nice, peaceful community out here until that came along," said Jack Hazelgren, a retired feed-store operator who lives a few doors down from the Summit Academy and its proposed expansion site.
"They don't make good neighbors," added Grant Hansen, another resident of more than 30 years. "A public school could not get away with what they have done."
The Summit Academy has designs on a seven-acre pasture that two horses share now with idle irrigation equipment. Directly west of the existing school, the field is where the privately owned and operated charter school plans a new, 50,000-square-foot building to help with its 1,900 student waiting list.
School officials say they received approval for the K-9 expansion from the state Board of Education last winter. They've bought the land and need to raise $8 to $10 million to build the school itself.
"Everything's still in process," said Dave Crandall, president of the Summit Academy board of Trustees. "I don't know what approvals we will need . . . but they would be the same that any school would need."
So far, Draper City isn't saying anything.
"We don't have an application from the school," said city spokeswoman Maridene Hancock. But she noted that the city will require the school to address traffic management.
The neighbors say they have spoken with the Jordan School District, city traffic officials and Greg Hughes, a state representative and member of the Summit Academy's board. They doubt they can do anything to stop the problem from getting worse.
The academy has set up an elaborate transportation system. Its carpools wait on 132000 South about half an hour before school opens and closes.
Some cars wait in the middle of the road. Others line up on the dirt shoulder on the south side of the street. A school official broadcasts the arrival of each carpool in the queue. Students wait in the gymnasium, scramble out to their carpool cars, and the cars exit onto 1300 East.
"We encourage parents to be courteous drivers," said Summit Academy Director Jill Neff. Without state funding for transportation, buses aren't in the plans, she and Crandall said.
"It is what it is," Neff said. "We do what we can, given the situation."
Hazelgren and Hansen say they have run across too many rushing, rude carpool drivers to name. Their efforts to remind the drivers that no parking is allowed where many of them park and to stick to the speed limit have prompted some angry reactions.
"Boy, that language they used was unbelievable," said Hansen, a retired teacher who recalls one time when a woman honking and speeding to Summit "gave me . . . that sign of peace, I guess."
"You mean that international sign of brotherhood," Hazelgren offered.
As the Summit Academy moves forward with plans to open the new campus, it would be no surprise to hear of more clashes.
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  #78  
Old Posted Apr 15, 2007, 12:02 PM
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Higher fares, fewer routes

UTA says redesign will help commuters, but disabled and low-income advocates cry foul

By Nicole Warburton
Deseret Morning News
Around 8:15 a.m., Grace Goff makes the trek from her apartment, crossing the street to the parking lot where she has arranged to meet her Paratransit bus.


Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News
Ray Stephens, a 60-year-old Vietnam veteran, waits for a bus in downtown Salt Lake City. Stephens depends on the bus to get to the VA hospital.

Her walker, striped red and white to identify her as blind, is stacked high with books to return to the library and a treat to share with friends.
For almost 45 minutes, she waits under the door frame of a nearby apartment. It has snowed the night before, and this morning, there is a light drizzle of rain but, thankfully, no wind.
"I'm not supposed to stand in the heat or cold," said Goff, who has poor vision, respiratory problems and severe joint pain as a result of coming in contact with a toxic fungus when she was 16.
At 8:56 a.m., Goff pulls a cell phone from her pocket to call the Utah Transit Authority to say her bus is late. Two minutes later, the bus comes around the corner.
Goff depends on the bus, and she worries about a proposed fare increase and redesign of UTA's Salt Lake County bus system. She's one of hundreds of riders impacted by the changes. They live along the east bench, out west in Kearns and in the heart of Salt Lake City.


Laura Seitz, Deseret Morning News
Vickie Hathaway climbs steps of Paratransit bus with help from a driver. Grace Goff, in background, waits to board.

The redesign is the largest in UTA history and consolidates 98 bus routes into 80. Buses will be moved out of neighborhoods onto high-traffic roads and will run with more frequency. Fares for buses and TRAX light rail will increase 50 cents to $2 for an adult one-way ride by 2009.
With the redesign, Goff worries she will no longer have weekend bus service. UTA wants to move its weekend buses more than three-quarters of a mile from her home. Federal disability law says a bus company does not have to provide Paratransit service if regular buses don't run within three-quarters of a mile from a person's home or destination. UTA said it ignores the three-quarters rule on weekdays, but Goff may not have a bus on weekends.
As for the fare increases, disabled riders — many on fixed incomes — also will end up paying more each month. Instead of an unlimited trip pass for $69, UTA is proposing a 30-trip punch card for $44 and a 60-trip card for $76. The punch cards expire at the end of each month.
Riders say it will be hard to make the cards last through a month. Going to and from work counts as two trips. A trip to the doctor is two trips. The same with a visit to the grocery store or a friend's house.
"The people who need transit the very most are not being considered, because they're not profitable," said Goff.
Serving commuters
UTA general manger John Inglish says the changes are intended to capture more riders such as businessmen, college students or downtown residents who want a bus system that is speedy, reliable and easy to access.
But he admits the idea may not benefit some riders like Goff who depend on transit.
"There aren't that many of them," Inglish said. "The sense we have is that making it better for the markets we're focused on will make it better for them."


Deseret Morning News graphic

Of the 2,710 public comments that UTA received about the redesign, 65 percent criticized the plan, according to a UTA analysis. The comments show that people are both upset and confused about the impact of the changes.
The changes mean that Nikki Christensen, a 21-year-old University of Utah student with short brown hair and cat-eye glasses, will have to ride her bike to school or walk longer distances at night to catch a bus. She has created a blog at whereisuta.blogspot.com to talk about the changes.
"This is a huge impact on me," said Christensen. "I can't imagine how it will impact people who don't have options."
She worries about riding her bike on busy roads or walking longer distances at night. In 2004, she was hit by a car while riding her bike downtown. She broke her leg and wrist.
"Increasing fares and eliminating routes and trying to say it's beneficial to us is either crazy or disingenuous," she said. "It's the largest bus cut in UTA history."
UTA, however, says the redesign is not a "bus cut." Buses will run the same number of hours and miles, said Jerry Bensen, UTA chief performance officer.
The changes will save the agency money: The redesign budget shows a $627,136 annual savings over current operating costs. UTA said that money will be used to add bus service to areas where routes have been changed. Additions will be made once UTA has reviewed all public comments.


Laura Seitz, Deseret Morning News
Ricki Landers of West Valley City, above, protests UTA's fare hikes and redesigned bus service at the UTA headquarters in Salt Lake City on March 28.
As protests and public outcry about the redesign have grown louder in recent weeks, the agency has revised its numbers of how many routes it is changing. When the redesign was announced in February, UTA said routes would be reduced from 117 to 54. A few weeks later, the agency said routes were being reduced from 98 to 54. Now UTA says the redesign is a change from 98 to 80 routes.
Agency spokesman Justin Jones said the previous numbers did not account for factors such as night routes and intercounty routes that are not changing.
Bill Tibbetts, director of the Anti-Hunger Action Committee, said the ever-changing numbers show that UTA is trying to "spin" the facts about the redesign.
"I know we live in an age of spin, where if you have the right public-relations campaign, you can change reality," said Tibbetts. "But how can you go to people who are losing all service on their street and tell them service isn't being eliminated?"
Designing change
For people like Ray Stephens, a 60-year-old disabled Vietnam veteran, the changes appear like a loss in service. Stephens has poor eyesight because of diabetes and struggles to walk long distances. With the redesign, buses will no longer stop in front of his home on 100 South. They will instead run on 200 South, making it harder for him to get around.
In addition to his regular bus routes, Stephens said, the redesign will affect his route to the VA hospital in Salt Lake City. Buses now travel a loop inside the hospital complex, and veterans are dropped off near the hospital door.
Under the redesign, UTA will eliminate the hospital loop and drop off riders at a bus stop on Foothill Boulevard. Catching a bus from the VA hospital will require people to walk across Foothill Boulevard.


UTA officials meet with bus riders at a public meeting March 6 in West Jordan to discuss the route redesign. The redesign is the largest in UTA history and consolidates 98 bus routes into 80.

"I can understand them realigning the system, but the point of the system is that it serve the people, not the people serving the system," said Stephens.
In designing the route changes, UTA held meetings with several focus groups and hired a consultant to do a yearlong study of county demographics and attitudes toward transit. Ridership on routes was also reviewed, but UTA said that was not a key part of the process. No public hearings were held.
"Our directive was to erase all the lines on the map and build a bus system for Salt Lake County today — not Salt Lake County in 1970," said Jones. "Ridership was a final deciding factor in placing routes where they are currently proposed."
With the redesign, UTA is confident people will ride the bus more. Bus stops may be farther away, but service will be more frequent and route connections faster, said Inglish.
UTA says bus service in Salt Lake City's west-side communities will increase 40 percent. Downtown and Salt Lake County's west side will also see increases. Parts of the east side will lose service.
Reducing options?
Lurae Stuart, a senior program manager for the American Public Transportation Association, said transit agencies across the nation are changing how they run their bus systems in order to make riding easier and better serve population centers. This is done by cutting routes with low ridership or consolidating routes that overlap, she said.


Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News
Nikki Christensen, 21-year-old U. student, talks with Robert Smith about UTA changes. The redesign will force Christensen to ride her bike to school or walk longer distances at night to catch a bus.

With the redesign, UTA anticipates a 12 percent increase in ridership in three years. But there are gaps in the plan.
Cottonwood Heights is losing its only bus connection to TRAX in favor of more commuter buses. In Kearns, residents complain they will have to walk several blocks in the dark to get home from work. And hundreds of people who work at the International Center, west of the Salt Lake City International Airport, will no longer be served by a bus.
During a recent visit to the Salt Lake City office for the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, several women complained the redesign would reduce their travel options. One woman said she may lose her job at the center because buses won't travel near her home in the southwest end of the county.
Inglish said he is aware of the concerns. Over the coming weeks, UTA will review public comment and decide how to change redesign plans. In mid-May, changes will be presented to the UTA Board of Trustees.
But some residents, including Christensen, want the agency to postpone the fare increases and redesign, and create a task force made up of riders to discuss ways to improve service.
"There are other ways to get people on the bus that doesn't involve cutting service and raising fares," Christensen said.
To view a copy of UTA's redesign plans, log on to rideuta.com. A public comment period about the fare increases ends on Wednesday. Public comment has already ended about the redesign, which is scheduled to be implemented Aug. 26.


Deseret Morning News graphic


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  #79  
Old Posted Apr 15, 2007, 3:13 PM
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i-215 i-215 is offline
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$162.00/mo for a commuter rail monthly pass in 2009, eh? I'll drive my car, thanks.
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  #80  
Old Posted Apr 16, 2007, 3:56 AM
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wow.. 162 bucks a month for commuter rail is a straight up joke.. I don't see myself ever riding that sucker.. that really sucks..
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