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Old Posted Today, 7:30 PM
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The Utah Transit Authority warns that it cannot afford all the TRAX extensions, new bus rapid transit routes and additional streetcar systems now in long-term regional transportation plans — unless residents approve a big tax hike.

"They really can't be accommodated in our current level of funding," says UTA President and CEO Jerry Benson.

He adds that when counties and cities developed regional plans through 2040, they generally assumed the sales tax for transit would be a penny per dollar by now. It is far below that.
It is .69 of a cent per dollar in Salt Lake County. Raising it to a full penny per dollar would require a 45 percent sales tax boost.

Big plans • The Wasatch Front Regional Council's transportation plan through 2040 envisions many expensive transit projects in coming decades — which UTA now says are unaffordable.

They include:
• New Salt Lake City streetcar lines on 200 South and in the Granary District, and extending and improving the existing Sugar House line.
• Stretching TRAX southward into Utah County, and westward from Salt Lake City International Airport to the International Center and perhaps beyond.
• Many new "bus rapid transit" (BRT) lines, sort of TRAX on rubber wheels in which long buses often have their own traffic lanes and tickets are sold by machines before boarding.
BRT routes planned in Salt Lake County include: Foothill/Wasatch drives, 700 East, 1300 East, State Street, Redwood Road, Bangerter Highway, 5600 West, Taylorsville-Murray-Holladay, 5400 South, Fort Union Boulevard, 9000 South and 12300/12600 South.
• New BRT lines that would run through Davis County to Salt Lake City and Ogden.
• A new downtown streetcar in Ogden, and a streetcar or BRT between downtown Ogden and Weber State University.


The Legislature earlier this year authorized borrowing the $1 billion over the next four years. Projects approved Friday also will be spread over that time and beyond — but will be built much more quickly than previously planned.

"This really is a major step forward," said Commission Chairman Kent Millington, adding that the panel studied how to spend the money for three months and took public comment during that time.

Looks like the state is willing to borrow a billion for roads, but voters are unwilling to pay an extra fraction of a penny on their sales tax to keep public transportation projects funded. Looks to me like priorities are beginning to shift away from mass transit. People want the transit infrastructure, but don't want to pay for it. You can't have it both ways.
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