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Ogden BRT project bringing big change to Weber State campus

By Tim Vandenack standard-Examiner - | Jun 25, 2021
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Workers helping build the Bus Rapid Transit roadway through the Weber State University campus in Ogden on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The photo shows the Browning Center.

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Crews work on the Bus Rapid Transit roadway through the Weber State University campus in Ogden on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The photo shows the Browning Center, to the right.

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Workers helping build the bus rapid transit roadway through the Weber State University campus in Ogden on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The Shepherd Union is on the right.

OGDEN — The Weber State University campus is undergoing a transformation, brought on by development of the Ogden Bus Rapid Transit system linking the FrontRunner station in downtown Ogden, McKay-Dee Hospital, the university and points in-between.

For now, with work underway, that means the central campus area around the Browning Center for the Performing Arts and the Shepherd Union is partially blocked off, filled with construction equipment and difficult for visitors to navigate. When the BRT project is complete in 2023, though — creating a new north-south corridor for buses that cuts through the middle of the campus — university officials envision a changed, more accessible place.

Image supplied, Weber State University

The map shows the route of the Ogden Bus Rapid Transit system through the Weber State University campus. It goes from Dee Events Center, shown on the right, to the center of the campus around Shepherd Union then exits onto Harrison Boulevard, shown at the lower left-hand corner. Groundbreaking for the new BRT system connecting downtown Ogden and the area around the campus was April 13, 2021.

“The BRT has the potential to be transformational for the Ogden campus. We have worked very hard to get the BRT stop right in the center of campus, making transit a much more attractive option for our faculty, staff and students. Our hope is that many more individuals will choose transit as a means of getting to campus,” Norm Tarbox, WSU’s vice president for administrative services, said in a message to the Standard-Examiner. The $120 million Utah Transit Authority project, in the works for years, will create a high-speed public transit connection between the FrontRunner station and the area around Weber State University, largely via 25th Street and Harrison Boulevard.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held April 13, with work most visibly underway, for now, at the Weber State campus and on Harrison and Washington boulevards in Ogden along the planned BRT route. The work in the core area of Weber State around the Browning Center and the Shepherd Union, the most disruptive part of construction on the campus, should be done over the summer. “Students should have little difficulty getting around on campus come fall semester,” Tarbox said.

Then work on the Weber State campus will move south to around Wildcat Village, a student housing area, and Dee Events Center even further to the south, extending into 2022. When all is said and done, a new route will cut through the campus to accommodate the electric BRT buses. It will extend northward from Dee Events Center through a small residential neighborhood on the southern periphery of the campus to the core campus area around Shepherd Union, where what’s to be called the Central Campus Station is to be located. Then the route will continue northwesterly outside the Student Services Center and the Miller Administration building, travel on the north side of Ada Lindquist Plaza and connect to Dixon Parkway on the northeastern corner of the campus. The route will follow Dixon Parkway, part of the road system the loops around the periphery of the campus, then exit onto Harrison Boulevard via a new connection to the busy street, only accessible to BRT buses.

Though a new lane, 12-feet wide in most sections, will pass through the heart of Weber State, Tarbox doesn’t foresee disruption to the feel of the campus. Only buses will be able to use the route, coming once every seven to 15 minutes depending on time of day, and they’ll travel just 10 mph in the heart of the campus. The lane will be well-marked to augment safety, minimize the possibility of mishaps.

By TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner

Workers helping build the Bus Rapid Transit roadway through the Weber State University campus in Ogden on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The photo shows the area in front of the Browning Center, which is on the left.

“No buildings will be displaced or demolished. Only a small amount of greenspace will go away. The route largely follows existing sidewalks,” Tarbox said. “Obviously the corridor will need to be wider, but most of the affected areas should have the same feel as they did prior to construction.”

The biggest change will be in the area south of the Shepherd Union and in front of the Browning Center, where work is currently focused, he said. That’s where the main campus BRT stop will be located (with others at Dee Events Center and Wildcat Village). Northbound and southbound platforms are taking shape between Shepherd Union and the Browning Center, also where a turn-around spot is to be located. “But this area should integrate nicely with campus,” Tarbox said.

To the south, between Wildcat Village and the Dee Events Center, the BRT route will bisect a residential street, 4225 South, and that has necessitated the demolition of three homes to make way for the new pathway. “Several other homes have been purchased to provide a buffer. We have been working with homeowners in the area for many years in preparation for the project, and continue to share information with them now that construction has begun,” Tarbox said.

By TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner

An empty lot along 4225 South south of Wildcat Village, the student housing complex on the Weber State University campus in Ogden, photographed on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. The Bus Rapid Transit route through the campus will go through the lot.

Starting last March, the university marquee spanning the entry to the Dee Events Center parking lot off Harrison Boulevard between 4200 South and 4600 South was demolished. That drive will serve as the southern entry point to the Weber State campus and the marquee was removed to accommodate BRT bus traffic.

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