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Airport TRAX tests begin Tuesday; line opens April 14

Published October 24, 2012 8:48 pm

Transit • Major line will undergo months of test runs before opening for service April 14.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Test trains will begin to run Tuesday on the new TRAX extension to Salt Lake City International Airport — and the line will open to passengers on April 14, the Utah Transit Authority announced on Wednesday.

The six-mile extension will run from the EnergySolutions Arena in downtown Salt Lake City to North Temple and out to the Salt Lake City International Airport. It 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 Valley Fair Mall in West Valley City.

UTA said major construction on the line essentially will be complete next week, and testing will begin with one train on Tuesday. Initial test runs will be a relatively low speed, working up to full speed by Nov. 9. During the week of Nov. 12, UTA will begin running multiple trains on the line.

On Dec. 9, green line trains from West Valley City 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). UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter said that is to allow green line trains to participate in testing of the airport extension from the Arena Station.

"We remind motorists and pedestrians to be safe as we begin testing on the airport line," said UTA General Manager Michael Allegra. "Be sure to obey all traffic laws and signals and always look both ways before crossing the tracks."

Flaggers will be used along the line until all of the signals and lights have been tested and certified as safe. He said UTA has been making safety presentations to schools and community groups in neighborhoods around the new line, and more safety presentations are available upon request.

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. Her death led UTA to redesign sound walls near crossings — which had obstructed views by pedestrians — and to add additional safety features from gates to louder train warnings.

Passengers are scheduled to begin using the new airport extension on April 14,one of the three dates a year when UTA alters its bus and train schedules. Its new Draper extension of the blue line is scheduled to begin next summer, and the new Sugar House streetcar line is scheduled to open next winter.

"The airport TRAX line is the most anticipated of our new lines," UTA Board Chairman Greg Hughes said. "It will provide a key connection to a top destination, employment centers and the rest of the Wasatch Front."