A couple of weeks later than planned, the first test train ran Tuesday on the new Airport TRAX extension — and the Utah Transit Authority is urging drivers and pedestrians to expect and watch out for trains there now.
UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter said a single TRAX car initially is running on the tracks at walking speed “to test all of the systems, all of the clearances, the overhead catenary wire, and making sure everything is built properly, designed properly and working properly.”
Testing was originally planned to begin two weeks ago, but Carpenter said it was delayed by need for additional rail grinding — and by problems with grinding equipment plus some weather delays.
“Starting the end of the month,” Carpenter said, “we will have more frequent trains traveling at higher speeds the full length of the line.”
Beginning Dec. 9, all green line trains will end at the Arena Station, instead of farther west at the Salt Lake Central Station (which will still be served by blue line trains). Those green line trains “will become test trains and continue on to the airport,” Carpenter said.
The new extension is scheduled to open to passengers on April 14, after months of testing and required certification.
“People who are driving or walking in the North Temple area should be aware that trains are now running,” Carpenter advised. “You should obey all signals, always look both ways. A train could come from either direction at any time.”
Last year, 15-year-old Shariah Casper was killed in West Jordan by a TRAX train during testing of the new Mid-Jordan extension of the red line. She was hit attempting to cross after a train in the opposite direction had just passed. Her death led UTA to redesign sound walls, which had obstructed views of pedestrians, and to add additional safety features from gates to louder train warnings.
The new six-mile airport extension runs from the EnergySolutions Arena to North Temple and out to the Salt Lake City International Airport.
The extension will have stations atop the North Temple Viaduct (which connects to FrontRunner) and at 800 West, 1100 West, 1500 West, 1950 West and the airport. The extension will become part of the green line, which runs to the Valley Fair Mall in West Valley City.