Utah public transportation: Scale back site visitors and air air pollution | Opinion

Numbers launched by the U.S. Census Bureau exhibiting Utah because thefastest-growing state within the nation during the last decade verify what we already knew — we’re rising up, actually.

Utah is doubling in inhabitants and main the nation on numerous key financial metrics. As mayor of a metropolis on the epicenter of all of it, I acknowledge the significance of considering in another way about how we develop. That is why I wholeheartedly supported the Legislature’s transfer that licensed the Utah Department of Transportation to handle and oversee transit capital growth tasks that embrace state funding. 

Sponsored by Rep. Kay Christofferson and Sen. Kirk Cullimore, HB322 Public Transit Capital Development Modifications is a recreation changer for transit in Utah. Signed into regulation by Gov. Spencer Cox, HB322 authorizes UDOT to handle and oversee transit capital tasks that the Utah Transit Authority would then function and preserve. The invoice particularly identifies tasks comparable to FrontRunner upgrades and transit service on the Point of the Mountain. 

This historic transfer represents a paradigm shift for transportation in Utah. With a state company delivering transit capital tasks, the Legislature will seemingly really feel extra comfy allocating further state funding to transit. Over time, this might doubtlessly make a whole lot of thousands and thousands of {dollars} out there for regionally vital transit tasks. 

To cut back the variety of folks driving alone in automobiles on our roads, we will need to have a well-functioning transportation system that seamlessly integrates alternative ways of getting round. Transit is a necessary a part of our transportation system for lowering site visitors congestion, growing entry to instructional and employment alternatives, enhancing our air high quality and enhancing our total high quality of life. 

I’ve served on the UTA board in numerous capacities over the years and have seen the significance of transit firsthand. During my service on the board, UTA accomplished the $2.8 billion FrontLines 2015 Program greater than two years forward of schedule and $300 million below funds. FrontLines 2015 doubled UTA’s rail system by including 4 new TRAX strains and a 45-mile FrontRunner extension from Salt Lake to Provo. UTA was acknowledged nationally for its profitable supply of the biggest transit capital program in state historical past. However, with considerably extra transit wants throughout the area and the state, UDOT is properly positioned because the company to ship future transit capital tasks going ahead. 

Having a state division of transportation handle the supply of a rail or bus line isn’t repeatedly finished in different elements of the nation. However, UDOT delivers multibillion-dollar infrastructure tasks forward of schedule and below funds on a regular basis. Indeed, there’s precedent for this with the Utah Valley Express, a bus speedy transit venture that operates with record-breaking ridership in Orem and Provo. In shut collaboration with UTA, UDOT managed this regionally vital transit venture that runs virtually solely on state-owned roads.

HB322 institutionalizes collaboration between Utah’s largest transportation businesses and can in the end save taxpayer assets by means of improved coordination and environment friendly streamlining of our important transportation assets. While the businesses have labored collectively for years as evidenced by Utah’s Transportation Vision and the Utah Unified Transportation Plan, we now have a regulation that may assist us extra effectively implement them. This straight advantages Utahns throughout the state, together with Draper residents. 

In 2019, Draper was ranked by Money Magazine because the “sixth best city in the country” to dwell. Our enviable high quality of life didn’t occur in a single day or by happenstance. For instance, our group has one of the in depth city-owned path networks within the nation, with over 117 miles of scenic trails and 5,000 acres of open house in Corner Canyon alone. This in depth path community, coupled with deliberate transportation investments, implies that Draper residents and guests will be capable of journey from Corner Canyon to The Point with out ever needing to get in a automotive

What’s The Point? The Point is arguably essentially the most vital financial and quality-of-life alternative in state historical past. Located wholly inside Draper boundaries, America’s latest 15-minute metropolis can solely turn into a actuality with transit. For years, I’ve served on the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority and have helped to supervise the creation of the framework plan for the positioning. The plan anticipates transit-oriented growth on a scale by no means earlier than seen in Utah. All day by day wants for the tens of hundreds of future staff and residents at The Point will likely be inside a 15-minute stroll of a transit station. 

Situated on the coronary heart of Utah’s two most populous counties and largest labor sheds, the Point of the Mountain already has vital transportation challenges, and it is just going to worsen except we work collectively to implement the suitable options. Major transit investments on this space and throughout the state will likely be wanted to make sure we keep forward of our development. UDOT is the suitable company to ship these investments.  

Troy Walker is the mayor of Draper and serves because the Salt Lake County mayor’s appointee to the Utah Transit Authority Local Advisory Council.

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