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West Valley City Journal

Bus rapid transit project connecting Murray, Taylorsville and West Valley remains on schedule

Jan 30, 2019 02:10PM ● By Carl Fauver

Rendering of proposed Midvalley Connector BRT station. (Photo courtesy UTA)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

Between I-15, the westside belt route, Bangerter Highway and the Mountain View Corridor, commuters in the southwest part of the Salt Lake Valley can normally find a relatively pain-free way to move north and south.

But ahhhh… the never-ending dilemma of the east-west commute lingers on.  

On 5400 South through Taylorsville the solution was to install red and green lane signs that make every day feel like Christmas for drivers.

And for a full decade now, the problem has been considered, debated and addressed for improving 4500-4700 South travel.

“Work first began to address this travel problem across the valley along 4700 South back in 2009,” said Loretta Markham with Jacobs, a consulting firm on the project. “Back then, a light rail spur was still being considered. But through years of analysis, it was determined a bus rapid transit project would be more effective at connecting people to other midvalley mass transit systems.”

At their first meeting of 2019, Taylorsville City Council members heard a detailed update on the Midvalley Connector Bus Rapid Transit project from Markham, who is the Jacobs consultant team project manager.

“My guess is the bulk of the construction work will occur in 2021,” she told the elected officials. “Under the current timeline, final design of the project will occur this year, with property acquisition after that. There are 30 partial land acquisitions required. But most of those are just little slivers of land, which should not take as long to acquire.”

In fact, the only Taylorsville residents who will be displaced by the project reside in two aging apartment buildings between 4700 South and Salt Lake Community College: Casa Linda Apartments.

“The city purchased Casa Linda Apartments as right of way acquisition,” City Councilman Brad Christopherson said in a text. “The state allocated some funds several years ago. A couple of the Casa Linda buildings have already been torn down.”

Christopherson also added, the city was aware of an asbestos issue in the buildings at the time of the purchase. Taylorsville will be responsible for the hazardous waste cleanup if there is any. But because the still standing buildings were constructed more recently than those that have already been torn down, the council is hopeful asbestos will not be found when the current structures are removed.

Effectively, the Midvalley Connector Bus Rapid Transit line will link Murray’s Intermountain Medical Center to West Valley City Hall. A new transit hub will be constructed at Salt Lake Community College, the primary reason why the apartments must go. And 15 bus stations will be constructed along the route.

“They are not like standard Utah Transit Authority bus stops, which are often just a pole in the sidewalk,” Markham said. “These stations will be covered, include benches and a kiosk for purchasing bus tickets.”

Several of the stations will be built in the middle of 4500-4700 South.

The bus route will proceed west on 4700 South before turning north on 2700 West to end in West Valley, west of Valley Fair Mall.

“This route will connect commuters with TRAX lines and many other mass transit options,” said Lynda Jensen, with Forsgren Associates, Inc. Essentially, she is Taylorsville’s contracted city engineer on the project. “There are so many office buildings along this route; it should help a lot of people to be able to leave their cars at home when they go to work.”

The $40 million cost of the BRT project includes the purchase of eight deluxe, high-capacity busses, at an estimated cost of $1 million each.  

During her presentation to the Taylorsville City Council, Markham also asked the body to sign a formal resolution in support of the BRT plan. At press deadline, council members had verbally committed to do so and encouraged Markham to offer their resolution as a template, as she seeks similar notices of support from the Murray and West Valley City Councils.

“I have worked with a lot of cities on a lot of projects,” Markham concluded. “Taylorsville’s vision and support to see this through – for 10 years now – has been as impressive as any municipal work I have seen. Even through various city administrations, their commitment to improving mass transit through Taylorsville has never wavered.”