Five Lines in Five Years is One Big Success Story

Across the United States communities are still grappling with the effect of the recession. Many are facing slow growth, slashed government budgets and a stark outlook for the future.

But in Utah, the story is much different.


The state has a vibrant economy with job growth over two-times that of the nation, an unemployment rate that continues to decrease and a community that is rising up to become a national leader. Moreover, the metros along the Wasatch Front are outperforming even the state’s stellar economic performance, each ranking in the top echelon of metros across the country and are collectively powering our national recovery.

Many factors have contributed to this success story from a responsible and prudent legislature and executive branch, determined business leaders, and a resilient community. However, one cannot overlook our community’s commitment and vision for an efficient transportation system.

This vision, in part, has come to fruition this past week as the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) celebrated the completion of the fifth new transit-rail line in five years, the Draper TRAX extension. This is no small feat and our community should join UTA and citizens of the Wasatch Front in commemorating this momentous accomplishment. 

Beginning with a ballot initiative in 2006, Utahns along the Wasatch Front were fed up with growing congestion and decided that investing in a top-notch transit rail system was vital to our future. When the recession hit and projects around the country stalled, UTA worked with their private partners to push their projects ahead. Today, the FrontLines 2015 program, which added 70 new miles of rail, has been completed nearly two years ahead of schedule and more than $300 million under budget.  This kind of commitment to excellence recently garnered the praise of the Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx.

“It means better access to jobs for hard-working families. It means less time stuck in traffic. It means that the air is cleaner and clearer. It means that this region — which is already one of the fastest-growing regions in the country — will be better prepared to handle more people as they make the Salt Lake City region their home,” Foxx said in the Salt Lake Tribune.

The value of these investments is also already paying off as we have connected our communities across the Wasatch Front. Commuters can now take FrontRunner for 80-plus miles from Pleasant View to Downtown Provo, students from Daybreak can now take TRAX straight to the campus at the University of Utah on the Red Line, and travelers from across the country can now take the Green Line from our international airport to downtown Salt Lake, West Valley or Draper all on transit.

This vision towards the future and the value of these investments will continue to increase in significance as our population across the state and especially the Wasatch Front is poised to nearly double. This growth will bring other challenges to our community. We must look at the vision our community had in 2006 as a template for the future once again.

Based on this template of prudent investments, the Utah’s Unified Transportation plan has provided an outlook for smart and sustainable transportation investments to keep our economy and community vibrant. This plan will require our state’s leaders and Utahns to rally around these investments and the funding they require to ensure we have a 21st Century transportation system that enables Utahns to enjoy remarkable life quality and prosperity.

The Utah Transportation Coalition, a business led movement to support investments in Utah’s transportation system, will continue to champion these investments and work with stakeholders from throughout our community. The Coalition, led by David Golden and H. David Burton, believes implementation of the Unified Transportation plan is critical to our future and commends UTA on its efforts to make that plan a reality.