The Salt Lake Intermodal Center Is On Track
From the Western Rail Passenger Review issue 02-10, December, 2002
Commentary by John Dornoff, InterRail Director.
The County of Salt Lake recently held a public hearing in order to get public reaction to the plans for the Salt Lake Intermodal depot, which should break ground by the time this article is published. The new facility will be built on a site just north of the "temporary" Amtrak station and will house Amtrak, Greyhound, Rimrock Trailways, Utah Transit Authority buses and TRAX service, and eventually the commuter trains from Brigham City to Payson that are proposed.
While the area around the current temporary station is run down, it is hoped that the new Intermodal facility will provide the spark to reviving the area much the same as the Gateway project has sparked a revival just a couple blocks away. The new Intermodal depot is only a block from the former Rio Grande station that planners hope to link to the new depot via a pedestrian greenbelt.
When the Intermodal Depot first opens, there will be one platform for Amtrak along with a couple of storage tracks. Room will also be left to add dual tracks and platforms for the planned commuter rail line. While the depot will still only see the nocturnal California Zephyr currently, Salt Lake County planners and the consultants are avoiding the problem of some other facilities by leaving room for the expansion of Amtrak facilities when they are needed. They are leaving enough room to add platforms to the storage tracks, and allow Amtrak to use the commuter platforms when not being used by the commuter trains.
The Utah Transit Authority will have an extensive presence at the new facility. In addition to the two platforms for the commuter trains, there will also be two platforms for an extension of TRAX light rail, along with a four-track storage yard for special events such as Utah Jazz games. The current plan is to extend the TRAX line from the Delta Center station across from the old Union Pacific station to the new intermodal facility. While planning is still continuing, it is projected that all current and planned light rail lines will serve the facility. In addition, since the UTA has no hub for its bus service in downtown, it is planning to make the Intermodal Depot a major hub for buses traveling through downtown.
While Greyhound will have a service center at the depot, planners have done an excellent job of concealing it. The facility will be in a circular building and the only thing that will be visible will be the bus entrance and exit. The shop and wash bay will be in the center of the building, hidden from the casual observer. Also, as part of the project, the dilapidated warehouses to the north of the current station will be refurbished to house shops and other businesses that will cater to travelers using the facility. While the area around the station is still questionable, there are signs of changes being made. The Gateway project has created a major revitalization of its area with major housing and offices being built only a couple of blocks from the future Intermodal Depot. In addition a mixed use low income-housing development is nearly completed a block from the current station.
Salt Lake County planners and their consultants have created a well-designed facility that will be a major improvement to intercity ground transportation for Salt Lake City. The facility is well thought out with expansion possibilities that will be a major boom to the west side, and a major improvement for passengers and should be opened by late 2004 or early 2005.