Growth always comes with challenges, but it also comes with significant opportunity.
The Tribune’s Jan. 27 editorial “Make growth pay for itself. And for TRAX.” brings up valid concerns about how we pay for growth, but missed the opportunity to acknowledge the work being done to ensure paying for the Point of the Mountain is smart and sustainable.
The Point of the Mountain is going to develop no matter what we do — and most of the growth will be driven by our own kids and grandkids. The question is how the area will grow. Doing it right comes with a price tag, but the regional and statewide benefits will far outweigh the costs for this, and future, generations.
With Utah County as an emerging job center and much of the state’s economic growth focused around the Point of the Mountain, smart transportation planning will be key to ensuring the area can thrive. That is why the TRAX line at the Point of the Mountain is not just an option, it’s a necessity — a necessity that has been carefully considered throughout the ongoing visioning process.
The rail line has been planned for many years and rose to the top of the priorities as a key element of the Point of the Mountain vision after engaging thousands of residents who believe passenger rail is a top transportation solution. The expansion of TRAX is also vital to the many employers in the area who require access to passenger rail for their employees.
The Point of the Mountain Commission is currently looking at several ways for the area to contribute to the cost of TRAX development through mechanisms such as tax increment financing. Under this mechanism, increased tax revenues from the development would be reinvested to pay for costs of the infrastructure. In essence, the growth will pay for itself. This would be the first time this has happened in Utah.
Another way the Point of the Mountain development will pay for itself is by attracting economic opportunity that provides high-paying jobs for our kids, as well as tax revenue. The revenue and jobs will have benefits for the entire state. Implementing the Point of the Mountain vision is projected to add another 150,000 jobs to the Wasatch Front, with wages $40,000 higher than average, along with billions of dollars in tax revenue.
A TRAX line at the Point of the Mountain will also have advantages beyond economic development. Currently, two-thirds of the traffic on I-15 at the Point of the Mountain is just passing through. Greater mobility in the area means less congestion and improved air quality by providing residents a viable option besides driving.
There will surely be concerns and challenges that arise as the vision for the Point of the Mountain development continues to unfold, but that is why the Point of the Mountain Commission, in conjunction with residents and community leaders from across the state, plans to address the challenges the right way today and set us all on a path for success in the future.
Theresa Foxley, president and CEO of EDCUtah, and Wade Sherman, vice president of Experience Cloud Legal Group at Adobe Systems Inc., are co-chairs of the Utah Transportation Coalition.