Salt Lake City’s chance at hosting 2034 Olympic Games could speed up TRAX expansion project
Dec 12, 2023, 6:16 PM | Updated: 6:22 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — Changes to TRAX lines could be coming sooner than planned, and in time for the 2034 Olympics.
The Utah Transit Authority shared the beginning stages of the Techlink TRAX study that’s underway with community stakeholders Tuesday.
The study proposes faster service, more stops and new lines. The expansion includes the realignment of the Red Line, a new Orange Line, and changes to the existing Blue and Green Lines.
“One is to take advantage of a current right-of-way that UTA owns, known as the ballpark spur, it comes off our Ballpark Station and works through the Granary District, along 400 West, and then could connect up to 400 South and subsequently on to the current TRAX line,” said UTA Board of Trustees Chair Carlton Christensen.
The right-of-way starts near 400 West and 900 South. It’s a part of town where developers say business and the population are expected to boom.
“We’ve been setting up the Granary District to become the best urban, walkable neighborhood in the state,” said developer James Alfandre, who attended the meeting.
Another change would alter part of the Red Line.
“Instead of going to the medical center over at the U, it would go to Research Park,” Christensen said.
He said the University of Utah plans to expand there. Planners said commuters heading to the U of U are a huge portion of their riders.
A new Orange Line would give people another option to get to the airport.
“The airport would in essence have two different lines,” Christensen said.
One line would come from Draper and another from the U of U.
Plan could potentially be sped up
The plan was initially decades away, but Salt Lake City’s chance to host the 2034 Olympics may speed that up.
“It sometimes speeds up the funding and the participation in the project,” Christensen said.
Some stakeholders said they’d like this expansion done sooner.
“We’ve had a big lag from the last Olympics on mass transit up until now,” Alfandre said.
UTA said they want TRAX to be more accessible by the 2034 Olympic Games. Currently, on the Blue Line, people with wheelchairs need to wait for the operator to put down the ramp. UTA said they want riders to be able to walk straight onto the car.
“Those older cars eventually in the near future need to be replaced so we’re in the process of trying to procure new cars,” Christensen said. “We’d obviously like to have those in place by the Olympics.”
Time isn’t the only constrain, so is money.
“Early estimates were around $225 million,” Christensen said. “True enough, it’ll probably be more than that.”
They hope the possibility of another Winter Games will help pay for the project.
“The area is developing as we speak and private investment is already taking place,” he said. “Being able to figure out both the alignment and the station locations will allow that private development to plan around and take advantage of it.”