FrontLines 2015 Railway Lines Project, United States of America
Utah, a western US state, is growing rapidly and so is its population. Inhabitants totalled 2.9 million at the beginning of 2009 and the figure is expected to increase by one million by 2030. A majority of this rise will see people will settle along the 80-mile long Wasatch Front, one of the most populated areas in Utah.
The increasing population means increased road traffic and vehicle trips along the Wasatch Front. Travel demand in Utah is increasing at 4% every year and by 2030 the number of daily vehicle trips is expected to have doubled.
In 2004, the Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC) and elected officials recommended advancement of the 2030 Long-Range Transportation Plan – an initiative by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) aimed at developing traffic infrastructure for future needs.
Accordingly, UTA decided to finish the construction of five rail lines, which were initially part of the 2030 Long-Range Transportation Plan, by 2015.
The project was named FrontLines 2015 and involved construction of four light rail lines and one commuter rail line with an investment of $2.85bn. The five new rail lines under the FrontLines 2015 programme were:
- Front Runner commuter rail
- Airport light rail line
- Draper light rail line
- Mid-Jordan light rail line
- West Valley light rail line.
Light rail or TRAX is preferred for shorter distances and can accommodate a greater number of stops. It runs on electricity and reaches maximum speeds of close to 65mph. Commuter rail runs on diesel, has two-level passenger coaches and attains speeds close to 79mph.
All the stations will have passenger platforms, parks, ride lots and bus bays.
The accelerated delivery of the project required additional funding. In August 2007, UTA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), under which the FTA agreed to give $570m of funding for extension of the Mid-Jordan and Draper lines.
The general public was approached to fund the other rail lines. The proposal was put for public opinion in Utah and Salt Lake counties, where people accepted a quarter-cent increase in sales tax to speed up construction.
Front Runner or Front Runner South is the only commuter rail under the FrontLines project. It runs 44 miles from Provo in Utah County to the Salt Lake Central Station in the capital Salt Lake City.
The line, an extension of UTA's existing Front Runner North, is being constructed on the east side of the Union Pacific Railroad until Salt Lake County with eight (or ten) stations. The eight stations already determined are Murray, South Jordan, Draper/Bluffdale, Lehi, American Fork, Vineyard, Orem and Provo.
Work began on 12 August 2008 and the line is expected to be completed by 2013.
Motive Power supplied ten locomotives and Bombardier supplied ten cab cars and eight passenger cars as well as revamping ten comet passenger cars to be used on the line.
The Airport Trax is a six-mile light rail line being constructed with an investment of $250–300m. The construction of the line began on 22 October 2008. The line will run from downtown Salt Lake City to North Temple to the Salt Lake City International Airport with six or more stations.
The six stations are Transfer Station to/from FrontRunner (Commuter Rail) at 500 West, 800 West, Fair Park, Cornell, Winifred and Salt Lake International Airport. The construction is expected to be completed by 2013 and will carry about 10,000 commuters annually by 2015.
The estimated travel time along the line is around 20 minutes. The line will be a convenient mode of transport for business travellers to commute from the airport to business centres, hotels and nearby tourist places.
Draper Line is a 26.5 square-mile light rail beginning from the current terminus of the Sandy/Salt Lake TRAX Line at 10000 South and extending up to 14600 South. In 2008 UTA, in association with the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration, completed the conducting of an environmental study of the several possible alignments for the track.
The project still requires FTA and public approval and is expected to begin only in the second quarter of 2009. The project is estimated to be completed by 2014 and carry 4,500 riders everyday.
Mid-Jordan light rail
The 10.6-mile Mid-Jordan project achieved ground breaking in May 2008. The light rail line is being built with an investment of $452m and passes through Murray, Midvale, West Jordan and South Jordan. The construction of the line is expected to be completed in 2012.
The proposed line will have nine stations located at 6400 South 500 West, 7800 South 1100 West, Redwood Road, 2700 West in West Jordan, Bangerter Highway, 4800 West in West Jordan, 5600 West in West Jordan, Daybreak North and Daybreak South.
An estimated 30,000 passengers will use the rail line everyday.
West Valley line
The West Valley line is a 5.1-mile long light rail line being laid with an investment of $250-290m. The construction of the line began on 18 June 2008 and it features ballasted double tracks. It begins from the existing 2100 South Trax Station in South Salt Lake and moves towards southwest up to West Valley City Hall's future intermodal centre.
The line features four new stations at Chesterfield, Decker Lake, E-Center and West Valley City Intermodal Center. The total journey time will be around 14 minutes and the number of passengers is expected to touch 12,000 daily by 2025. The project is due to be completed by 2015.