Ogden BRT map

OGDEN — The Utah Transit Authority has released the Environmental Assessment for a multi-million dollar bus rapid transit system in Ogden and will hold a public open house on the plan shortly after the new year.

The $79 million BRT project, which is currently being reviewed by the Federal Transit Administration, would provide a fixed transit connection between Ogden’s downtown, Weber State University and the McKay-Dee Hospital. The release of the EA signifies a major milestone in the project’s history and is the culmination of years of planning.

The recently completed environmental document, which identifies environmental impacts associated with the line’s construction and operation, is available for public review until Jan. 20. The document can be found at www.rideuta.com.

The open house is set to run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 9 at Ogden High School, 2828 Harrison Blvd.

A fixed transit route through Ogden’s downtown to the university and the hospital has been discussed and studied for more than a decade. According to Ogden City Council documents, an Ogden/WSU transit study commenced in November 2004 — the first iteration of the project called for a streetcar system, an option that was deemed too expensive by the council more than two years ago.

Funding has been an issue for the project, even after the more expensive option was tossed out.

A local funding match for the project was finalized in August after the council approved a Memorandum of Understanding that clarified specific duties and financial contributions of each of the local entities involved with the project.

In the spring, after some back and forth about which funds should be used, Weber County agreed to contribute $5 million to the project and UTA committed $7 million from its Proposition 1 quarter-cent sales tax reserve. The Weber Area Council of Governments had previously approved $2.5 million for the project, with the Wasatch Front Regional Council and UTA committing $1.5 million and $1 million, respectively.

Those contributions, along with certain right-of-way donations from Ogden City, made the project eligible for a FTA grant that would pay for the remainder of the project’s cost.

In September, Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell headed a group that traveled to Washington, D.C. to pitch the project to the FTA.

In addition to providing more access to the university and the hospital, the project would improve regional connection, provide better access to jobs, address air quality issues and promote economic development, according to UTA’s EA.

The service would originate at the Utah Transit Authority transit center at 2350 Wall Ave., head east on 23rd Street to Washington Boulevard, go south along Washington Boulevard to 25th Street, turn east along 25th Street to Harrison Boulevard, then south to WSU and a planned transit center at the Dee Events Center.

McKay-Dee would be the final stop on the line.

The line would include 13 stations and exclusive bus lanes from 32nd Street and Harrison to the Dee Events Center. It would have 10-minute service from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with 15-minute service the remainder of the day and on weekdays. The line would operate a total of 20 hours a day. Weekend service would run every 15 to 30 minutes and the project would include signal priority and “uniquely branded stations and vehicles,” according to the EA.

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.

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