News: September 1999
30 September 1999
- A bill has been approved that gives the thumbs up to the Downtown Salt Lake to University of Utah section of the East/West light rail line as part of the transportation budget. The House failed in its attempts (led by Utah Rep. Merrill Cooke who has flipped flopped on his position many times) to add a rider to the bill to kill the line. Because this line will serve the Olympic Games in 2002, it can be put on fast-track design/build allowing the bids to go out by the end of the year, and construction to start when the snow melts. This is the same method used to pay for the reconstruction of I-15, and to have the 20 year project done in 4 years.
- Due to the accident involving a light rail vehicle and a trainee operator, the free rides that where to be offered on Saturdays in October have been moved November. UTA wanted additional time to retrain the operators on the safety measures with the line.
- On September 23, Amtrak sent out a job posting for Product Manager for the Las Vegas service. This comes even though the UP says that they do not have a contract with Amtrak to run the train yet, even though they are close.
- Amtrak and the states of Oregon and Idaho are proceeding with plans for the Boise-Portland train. The states and Amtrak in the process of securing the funding for the route and getting commitments from the shippers.
- Several groups have come out in opposition to plans to expand Highway 93 from Missoula to Darby, MT. It is being called one of the most wasteful road projects that is proposed throughout the country. One of the problems with the project opponents say, is that there will be no safety improvements to the Montana Rail Link line that runs along the entire route of the project. There is several grade crossings along the line that are dangerous, but only have crossbucks and no other warning devices. Some of the opposition is also calling for rail passenger service on the MRL route to relieve congestion on HWY 93. The corridor from Hamilton to Missoula has seen rapid development in the last 10 years. One idea would be to run vehicles such as the Siemens Regio Sprinter on the route.
- An Investigation by both the Utah Transit Authority and the Sandy,UT police found the sub-contractor and the trainee operator at fault for the accident that occurred on Wednesday. The sub-contractor was at fault since they failed to notify the UTA that they were turning off the signals at the very busy 9000 south intersection. The operator was declared at fault since he failed to notice that the blue light that goes on when the crossing gates are working, was not on. The 18 year old girl who was involved in the collision was not cited since the gates where not functioning, and no law covers if the gate is not function, but she went around the stopped traffic.
- After two days of closed door meetings in Provo, UT, UTA and Salt Lake Olympic Committee officials have decided it is in the best interest of both groups to cooperate. SLOC has stated it will not lobby against transit projects, and will include UTA in its traffic plans. Up to this point SLOC had not included the UTA in any plans to handle traffic for the Olympics.
- The US Senate has approved of the proposed east-west light rail line from downtown to the University of Utah. The Senate did not include any funds for the project. A committee know has to work out the differences between the Senate and House proposals. The House did not allocate any funds or approval for the project. Rep. Merrill Cooke of Salt Lake, who at first favored the project, then opposed the project, know wants the city of Salt Lake to vote on the project. He is pushing a resolution that will call for a vote before any funds can be awarded for the project.
- The proposed train from Boise to Portland may start service as early as the first of the year.
- October 1st is the 20th anniversary of the Carter train cuts which killed the North Coast Hiawatha in Montana.
- On Friday September 10, Salt Lake's new TRAX light rail cars made their first trips to downtown. The trip was escorted by UTA trucks for protection against drivers not familiar with the new resident of Salt Lake. The light rail vehicle use all the crossovers, and other switches from the 1300 South station to the Delta Center station at the end of the line.
- Tests will continue on Saturdays in October. During these test, the public will be allowed to ride as a preview to the new system. UTA plans to announce where people can ride about a couple of days ahead.
- Drew Chamberlain, a vocal opponent of the light rail system, held a rally along the route to protest the first operation of a vehicle to downtown. He made several announcements on radio talk shows throughout the week. The protest took place at South Temple and Main street where the rail routes turn to head toward the former Union Pacific Station. The protest attracted a grand total of 3 people.