BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
NORTH SALT LAKE – South Davis County residents seem to agree additional public transportation is needed to get around, but some residents seemed uncomfortable with proposals unveiled Dec. 11, at an open house as part of a new Davis-Salt Lake Community Connector Study.
This newest Transit Alternatives Analysis is different than a study the Utah Transit Authority conducted in 2008 in that its focus is more confined to Bountiful and North Salt Lake with connections to the Woods Cross FrontRunner station.
However the cities of Woods Cross, West Bountiful, Centerville and Farmington will be included as a planning influence area.
“We’re building on information from that study,” said UTA Community Involvement Specialist Marc Bowman, “but this study is completely new. The transit market is different. We have FrontRunner and TRAX lines, and it’s time to reevaluate the need for transit,” he said. “All options are on the table.”
The first phase of the study will examine seven proposed routes, one of which may be chosen as the locally preferred alternative.
They all will start at 500 South and Main Street in Bountiful and end at 200 South and 600 West at the Intermodal hub in Salt Lake City. Some of the routes will go down Main Street through Bountiful, others will head west on 500 South to 500 West, 1100 West or Redwood Road, before traveling down Beck Street into Salt Lake City.
Proposed modes of transportation won’t be examined during this first phase, and that seemed backwards to some attending the open house who wanted to know if UTA was considering light rail, express buses, Bus Rapid Transit or a streetcar.
“Tell us what (mode of transportation) you’re going to put in, then we’ll have a better idea of what route should be used,” said Bountiful resident Tiffany Smith.
Martha Felt agreed, saying Bountiful Main Street would not be the place for TRAX. Krista Simonsen meanwhile, said she wouldn’t mind if UTA decided to use more buses.
“For us to never have pollution, everybody would have to ride (public transportation),” Felt said. “We live in a fishbowl.”
Many at the meeting were particularly concerned about the routes proposed along Main Street, fearing such a route would take out parallel parking in front of shops and stifle business in the area.
Others felt there wasn’t enough notice of the meeting’s time and location.
Zafar Alikhan, a consulting project engineer for UTA, said the agency was following typical procedures for such studies.
“We generally look at what connections are needed to best get people from point A to point B to point C,” he said. “We need to look at the impact of the route and what kind of investment is appropriate,” before deciding on the mode of transportation, Alikhan said.
“If there’s an opportunity to improve services, UTA would explore those,” he said.
UTA plans on having a locally preferred route decided by the spring of 2014, but the entire study will take several years.
“We don’t know yet if we will have to do an Environmental Impact Statement,” said Patti Garver, UTA’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) administrator. If the agency does, it could take up to an additional two years.
There are also no federal or local funds currently earmarked for the project, although it is part of Wasatch Choice for 2040 vision.
The results of a telephone survey conducted by UTA indicate that more than 90 percent of south Davis residents surveyed either agreed or strongly agreed that additional public transportation would help address local air quality issues, Bowman said.
Public comment was taken at the meeting. There will be additional chances for the public to comment, according to UTA’s website, rideuta.com.