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Rail-oriented projects in works

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Four projects will pave the way for transit-oriented development, hoping to show as many as 27 communities along the Wasatch Front available opportunities.

Envision Utah is working with Murray, South Salt Lake, West Jordan and Layton to plan development around existing and future transit station areas. Representatives from each community participated in workshops in November to examine their options. Today, at least one of the cities is starting to see the results of that work.

A project designed for Murray City's 4500 South TRAX station is most likely to get off the ground first, with the planning process starting in the next 30 days and a groundbreaking in early summer.

Developer Gerard Tully of Proterra Cos. said the project involves 450 to 500 residential rental units and he believes it's a project that will be well-received.

"The rail line is what will make it work," he said.

Tully said as the industrial nature of the area transitions out, it will be a very good site for people to live. Proterra is looking at support commercial businesses for the area, but Tully said the project would start off small and build from there.

South Salt Lake is working to create a plan for its 2100 South station.

While Murray and South Salt Lake have transit stations to work with, West Jordan and Layton are planning development around future transit possibilities.

West Jordan may get a TRAX line within the next five years.

Layton would be the site of a commuter-rail station when the service is built. It's planned to eventually run from Payson to Brigham City on tracks now owned by Union Pacific.

Murray City Councilwoman Pat Griffiths said she is enthusiastic about the prospect of a community within a community in Murray.

"I see this as a valuable opportunity for enhancement of Murray city," she said.

West Valley Mayor Gearld Wright is hoping for a light-rail extension in his city. He said it's important to plan ahead to set up planning and zoning so housing and shops can be built around stations.

"This is an opportunity to get ahead of the situation and have a greater direction in our lives and hopefully develop a little bit more intelligently," he said.

Peter Calthorpe, a consultant for Envision Utah, pointed out that transit-oriented development isn't for everybody. But he did say a range of people would benefit from it.

"You'd be surprised just how many people are dying for the opportunity to be a little more free from their automobile," he said.

E-mail: lculler@desnews.com