News: December 1999
15 December 1999 -- Win One, Lose One
- The Salt Lake City council has agreed to go ahead with the east/west
light rail line tonight, after voting last month to kill the project. The UTA
worked the entire month since the vote to change the construction plans to win
the votes on the council. The following terms where agreed upon to get the vote
to go ahead:
- The line will run on Sundays-Almost no UTA service including the new TRAX light rail line runs on Sundays. However as part of the agreement the both light rail lines will. The UTA was hesitant to agree to this since they experimented with Sunday service in three years ago and it was a fiancial disaster in this community.
- No Streets are to be closed during Construction-Many businesses along Main Street where hurt during the construction of the North/South TRAX line when the entire street was closed for a year. 400 South with is a major East/West Business route, will remain open during the construction. There was also some other minor consessions to get the agreement. Construction should begin in the spring and be finished by December of 2001.
- Boyer Development Corp, broke ground yesterday on its Gateway Project which includes the former Union Pacific station. The project has forced Amtrak into a trailer as a temporary station until a new intermodal terminal can be built. The Boyer group moved the construction schedule around the UP station ahead, since incoming Mayor Rocky Anderson is opposed to project for many reasons -- including that it will elimanate any possiblities of using the UP station for the intermodal terminal. One of the big reasons for support of having the intermodal terminal at the Union Pacific station is that it would allow Commuter Trains to arrive within walking distance of downtown. Now anyone riding the proposed commuter trains will have to ride a bus or taxi into the downtown area. Many in the community feel that this kills the commuter train project, although UTA is still working on it.
- Business on the new TRAX light rail line continues to exceed expectations. Businesses along Main Street that suffered during construction, are now seeing business increase dramatically. Overall, more people seem to be shopping downtown this year than in several years. The biggest complaints now are that the parking lots are full, and people have to stand most of the day. UTA is already having to run 4 car trains, even though it was thought that 2 car trains would be enough for most of the day.
8 December 1999
- The TRAX light rail line was dedicated on December 4, with the first official day of operation on December 6. On December 4 there was one mishap with a computer that went bad in one of the light rail vehicles but otherwise everything was fine. The Utah Transit Authority offered free rides on Saturday, with waits up to 3 hours to get on the route (even at crush capacity). The dedication ceremony was well attended considering the cold weather and the 10 inches of snow that fell two days earlier.
- The first day of regular operations of TRAX also went off well. The was many complaints due to overcrowding, and as predicted by many, the parking lots where full by 7:00am. The ABC affiliate 4Utah has run stories on the line everyday since Saturday, most of them being neutral to negative on the line. One of their reporters complained about the junk yards the line passed (this last for only 3 blocks) and the graffiti along a few blocks of the line near a bad area of town. Most of the riders where really positive about the line and are glad it is operation. On Tuesday the first Utah Jazz home game was held at the Delta Center which is at the northern terminus of the line. The trains where standing room only with Jazz fans heading for the game.
- In a surprise move, the Salt Lake City Council will vote on Thursday, December 9, on whether to reverse its decision to kill the East/West light rail line. Deanna Seed, one of the four city council members that voted to kill the project has indicated that she will change her vote and support the line. During the December 7 city council meeting debate was heard on the decision, with a majority of the people supporting the light rail line. Since Novembers elections the anti-light rail forces have been very quiet, although a couple of them did show up at the meeting.