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MIDVALE VOICES OBJECTIONS TO LIGHT RAIL

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Midvale officials have written the Utah Department of Transportation expressing opposition to the proposed light rail-system that would run through the city parallel to the existing railroad track.

The letter, signed by Midvale Mayor Everett E. Dahl, listed four objections to the proposed system and offered suggestions for improving bus transportation through the city.The city's objections have been aired before, but this is the first time the city has formally approached UDOT with its concerns.

Ground-level rail transportation would create traffic back-ups when it crossed busy streets such as 7200 South, the letter said, noting that a light-rail train may cross such streets every eight minutes at a time when the streets are busiest.

"A train that comes through every eight or 10 minutes and is in the intersection less than 30 seconds isn't going to create any backup," said John Inglish, assistant general manager of Utah Transit Authority. "We have studied it, and it will cause much less delay than a common, ordinary traffic signal at these locations."

Inglish has spearheaded the research into the light-rail system. Johnson is the man responsible for coordinating public hearings on the proposed light-rail system.

Ground-rail transportation may affect the timely response of emergency vehicles, the letter said, and the estimated cost of the light-rail system is not justified by the ridership estimates.

"Midvale is making a mistake a lot of people are making. They are misunderstanding the draft environmental impact statement," Inglish said. "They are under the mistaken impression that it will cost $6 or $7 for every rider in the system. It will cost about $2 per rider, which is about what it costs us to carry people by bus and less than what it costs to take car."

The letter also said, "the proposed system is 19th century and we are moving into the 21st century and suggest that the monorail be studied as our future light rail system," the letter said. "The monorail will be above ground traffic, will require minimum right-of-ways and could take people where they want to go. We still have plenty of time to investigate this alternative."

"The problem with the monorail is that it costs between four and 10 times as much as the light rail," Inglish said. "It is extremely expensive. Light rail is a very much 21st century proven technology commonly used in developed countries throughout the world."

City officials also complained about the current bus system in the letter. The UTA bus system handles transportation needs within the corporate limits of Salt Lake City, the letter said, noting the population there is 163,000. "But the transportation is totally inadequate in the middle of the valley because it does not take passengers where they want to go, especially traveling east or west," Dahl said in the letter. He noted that the population within a five-mile radius of Midvale is 268,000.

"That's exactly what this proposal is about. We are talking about a major expansion of the bus system, most of which will go into east/west service. Most of that will improve the quality and quantity of service outside of Salt Lake City but that increase service will create such a demand in the central corridor, we will need something that will move people through the corridor faster and more cheaply than buses. That's why we're looking to a light rail. I think we will need to get in touch with Midvale and sit down and spend some time with them," Inglish said.