Wednesday, May 24, 2017

TRAX is about done in Salt Lake County

The more I look at it, the more I think that TRAX is done in Salt Lake County*. Barring an odd stretch of the Denver and Rio Grand Western Railroad, I don't think there is any unused railroad track left in Salt Lake County**.  Almost all of what which existed in years past has been removed or converted to roadway. And that means converting roadway to dedicated right of way, at which point you might as well built a BRT.

There are a few cases where light rail might be appropriate: 

  • Granary TRAX along 400 W/700 South. Only a mile long, and reduces congestion on the 400 South and Main Street intersection.
  • Salt Lake International Airport. Airports need circulators, and it might as well be TRAX.
  • S-line to Westminster. (Maybe) Again, about a mile long. 
  • 400 South to connect the Red Line to FrontRunner direct. This has been part of the long range transportation plan for a decade, without happening. 200 south is increasingly play the role of connection FrontRunner to the University, making this irrelevant. 
  • Misc. streetcar, but anyplace they add a 'tram' portion (dedicated/shared guideway) to TRAX is going to have to be short, or else it will be so slow that no one will use it.
  • Streetcar from Westminster to 900 East. It would connect two rail lines, and links the University to Sugarhouse.
  • 9 Line SC, from 900S/400W to Indiana Ave/Redwood Road. TRAX on one end, BRT at other terminus. 2 miles long.
  • The extension from Draper to the Utah County line is planned, but being put off until Utah County matures enough to support TRAX. I admit a certain amount of skepticism this will happen. 
  • Red line extension to Herriman/Draper Town Centers. A bit noodely, but greenfield development without an existing roadway, so reasonable. 
  • Draper FrontRunner to LRTP Highland Drive/Minutemand Drive TRAX stop. Connects two rail modes, uses the 'grayfield' of the Prison site for exclusive right of way, and makes it possible to get across I-15 by rail. Bonus points in they add a ped bridge.
  • Any freeway median. BRT would be cheaper, LRT might be better. 

Not appropriate 

  • Fashionplace TRAX to the U, via I-215 and Foothill. Better as BRT
  • Sugarhouse to Parley's Transit Center. Via roadway, so better as BRT.
  • Highland Drive from end of Blue Line to 1100 East in SLC. Better as BRT
  • Daybreak-to-Draper along 114th South. Better as BRT.
  • 'Cottonwood Coaster' from Historic Sandy TRAX to Cottonwood Transit Center. Better as BRT
  • Draper Town Center to nowhere(?), along 123rd. No rail terminus, no connection to TRAX or Frontrunner on the east end.  I understand the desire to connect this end of the Red line extension to the rest of the valley, but TRAX is not the way to do it. 
  • I specifically disdain the DGRW Garfield Branch between Magna and the Old Bingham Highway. No major uses connected, and substantial out of direction travel. 
  • DGRW Branch from Old Bingham, to 5600 West, North to Amelia Earhart Drive and thence to the airport. The 5600 West portion is better as BRT, and connecting to the airport would require constructing substantial track is an area already full of ramps. Converting the rest of 40th West to freeway standards provides better airport access.  A BRT from the airport to the business park and thence south on 5600 South is likely just a better alternative. Converting the DGRW branch from railway to exclusive BRT would be better than TRAX.


*I know it's still in the running for Mountain Accord in Little Cottonwood; but so are a BRT and a cable car system. I laughed at the idea of a cable car, but if the ski resorts want to fund one over Guardsman Pass, it's their money.

**The extension from Draper to the Utah County line is planned, but being put off until Utah County matures enough to support TRAX. I admit a certain amount of skepticism this will happen.