There are many Utahns, probably hundreds of thousands of them, who remember when Draper was a sleepy farming community. No more. Today it is a busy suburb, and you need no more proof of that than this: It is getting its own TRAX extension. Getting TRAX service is becoming a community rite of passage in Salt Lake County.
Something similar can be said about West Valley City and West Jordan, which earlier this year joined the TRAX system with the Mid-Jordan and West Valley lines, also known as the Red and Green lines.
All of which is a roundabout way of celebrating the Utah Transit Authority's extraordinary railroad building program. If the private automobile isolates people and enables urban sprawl, light-rail trains pull them back together. Riding a train is, after all, a shared experience. TRAX is a community effort.
But enough philosophizing. In practical terms, the new 3.8-mile extension of the Sandy Line, now known as the Blue Line, into Draper will mean that more people will be able to choose to travel on rail mass transit, which is more efficient and causes less air pollution than private cars.
Of course, it's also less convenient than driving your own car, but that depends partly on how you use your time and whether you often are caught in rush-hour traffic on I-15 or elsewhere. You can't read a book or an iPad while you're driving a car, though some fools try. You can't do your homework, either.
It was gratifying to read in The Tribune on Tuesday that the federal government had come across with $116 million toward building the Draper extension, or about 60 percent of the project's cost. Our writer read that, by the way, in the Kindle edition of The Trib while riding the Red Line from the University of Utah to downtown Salt Lake City.
About a year from now, when the Draper extension is scheduled to open, people who board at new stations between 10000 South, where the Blue Line currently ends, and 12400 South, which will become the new terminus of the line, will be able to do the same. The extension already is about half complete. Track has been laid, but overhead electrical lines and stations remain to be completed.
There are only two real down sides to TRAX. One is the sketchiness of connections to bus service, which can be immensely frustrating. The other is the extraordinary number of people who have been killed in accidents with UTA trains this year. UTA has yet to overcome the challenges of safety and synchronicity.
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