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No decision made on airport TRAX line

SHARE No decision made on airport TRAX line

Tuesday night's City Council meeting in Salt Lake City was a little deja vu for the group of residents who have been anxiously following city efforts to build a new airport TRAX line in their neighborhood.

Again, residents turned out in force to debate a 400 West alignment over a 600 West alignment for the line. And again, no decision for a preferred alignment was made.

Council members did discuss signing an interlocal agreement with Utah's Transit Authority that would bring the project to fruition, but the agreement won't be made official until at least May 6.

"We need to come to a decision as soon as is practical," Councilman JT Martin said. "There are folks whose lives are hanging in there. There are real estate values that are hanging in there, and we need to come to a decision. I would like to come to a decision as soon as possible."

The Salt Lake City Council has hosted public hearings on a preferred alignment for the TRAX route since early last December. A majority of residents have spoken in favor of an alignment that

would run along 400 West, but some residents also support building a viaduct to take the line through 600 West.

UTA representatives did not attend Tuesday night's meeting, but the transit agency has said it supports whichever alignment the city chooses to support.

The interlocal agreement recognizes that a preferred alignment has not yet been chosen — and leaves the decision open until Dec. 31 if necessary — but it also represents Salt Lake City's commitment to pay up to $35 million to partially fund the project, grant UTA a franchise in all city streets required for the project and allow a reduction of two lanes on North Temple.

The city received approval from the Legislature to tap $2 from Salt Lake County car registration fees to help pay for the project, but before the Council can commit the funds, the city has to show the specific benefits that will be received by the city as a result of the project.

The purpose of Tuesday night's public hearing was to determine that appropriating the funds to UTA will provide for the safety, health, moral well-being, peace and comfort of residents of the city, according to a report reviewed by the Council as part of approving the interlocal agreement.

The report shows the city will have an increased value and enhanced tax revenue as a result of the TRAX line's completion, but as hundreds of residents continue to voice concern over the line's potential alignment, the well-being and peace of mind of residents of the area where the line will be built is still in question.

"The heart of the city has been taken out at different times with the freeway, and with the train tracks," said resident Ila Rose Fife. "Let's bring the heart back in and make this a very wonderful place to live. If you have heart, it ripples out and it will be good for the whole city."

E-mail: achoate@desnews.com