Ogden-WSU-McKay transit project $22.5 million short of getting federal funds

Thursday , July 13, 2017 - 5:15 AM

Courtesy of UTA

A Utah Transit Authority Bus Rapid Transit system already in operation in West Valley City.

MITCH SHAW, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — It’s been more than a decade since study began on a transit corridor between downtown Ogden and Weber State University, but it will be at least another five years before a project is actually realized. 

Representatives from the Utah Transit Authority made a presentation to the Ogden City Council Tuesday night, updating the council on a bus rapid transit service that’s been proposed to run between Ogden’s downtown transit center, WSU and McKay-Dee Hospital.

UTA Project Manager Hal Johnson told the council final engineering and design work for the project still needs to completed and UTA will soon request a change order from transit contractor HDR to do so. To date, the Weber Area Council of Governments has committed $2.5 million for the final design, with the Wasatch Front Regional Council and UTA committing $1.5 million and $1 million respectively.

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A memorandum of understanding between the agency, the city, the university, the hospital and Weber County also needs to be completed, something Johnson said should happen by August.

Funding the project is still a sticking point, Johnson said.

The Federal Transit Agency will likely put money toward the project, but it requires a local match. Johnson said $7.5 million in cash and land donations has been raised so far, but another $22.5 million is needed before the estimated $60 million project is eligible for federal funds.

Johnson said several local funding avenues are being explored, most likely from WACOG and from programs within the WFRC.

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If everything goes according to UTA’s timeline and all the money is raised, Johnson said the next opening for the project is in 2022.

After the $60 million construction cost, UTA estimates it would take another $1.6 million per year for operations and maintenance.

Johnson said those costs would be paid for with Prop 1 money. Passed by voters in November 2015, the Prop 1 ballot initiative provides counties that approved it with annual dollars for road projects, sidewalks, bike and pedestrian paths, and increased mass transit service.

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“Right now we’re really just looking for the capital funds,” Johnson said. 

Johnson also said UTA would look to hold another series of public involvement events, likely sometime in the fall. 

“You have to keep grinding away and keep moving forward one step of time,” he said. (But) we don't want the project to go stale.”

According to Ogden City Council documents, the Ogden/WSU transit study began in November 2004. The project initially involved a streetcar system, but that option was deemed too expensive and the council voted for BRT nearly two years ago.

The BRT route would begin at Ogden’s Intermodal Transit Center at 2350 Wall Avenue, heading east on 23rd Street to Washington Boulevard, south to 25th Street, then east up 25th Street to Harrison Boulevard, before linking to Weber State University and a planned intermodal transit hub to be built at the Dee Events Center.

McKay-Dee Hospital will be the last, southernmost stop for the corridor.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at facebook.com/mitchshaw.standardexaminer.