Corridor protection part of FrontRunner northward service plans
OGDEN — Pleasant View is a step closer to seeing a reintroduction of service while points beyond are also closer to gaining services as well.
During its regular meeting on May 2, as part of its consent agenda, the Weber County Commission allocated $1.5 million toward commuter rail corridor preservation.
Beth Holbrook, Utah Transit Authority board of trustees member, told the Standard-Examiner that the money goes toward corridor preservation for future development.
“This particular amount of funding was originally designed to help purchase corridor preservation technically within Union Pacific’s existing right of way,” she said. “We share a corridor with Union Pacific. They are typically on the west side of that corridor and our line is on the east side of the corridor. … The intent of this additional funding is to continue to preserve the specific corridor within the right of way for a dedicated UTA FrontRunner rail line moving forward.”
Currently, UTA’s trackage ends at Ogden Station where it converges with the Union Pacific mainline. The FrontRunner had previously shared the line with Union Pacific between Ogden and Pleasant View, but services terminated in 2018.
Holbrook said that, ultimately, the plan is to extend services back to Pleasant View and beyond on a dedicated UTA track.
“Service north of our existing Ogden FrontRunner station is somewhere in the long-range plan,” she said. “That is governed by Wasatch Front Regional Council, which is the metropolitan planning organization that does all of the long-range planning. That’s roughly in the 2030-2040 timeline at this current stage and iteration. Our goal is to obtain dedicated corridor preservation until that extension can be built and operated.”
The goal is ultimately to reach Brigham City in Box Elder County.
Pleasant View mayor Leonard Call told the Standard-Examiner that he’s happy to see things moving forward.
“I and the city have been kind of encouraging UDOT (Utah Department of Transportation) ever since they closed the station to identify the right of way they’re going to need through Pleasant View to ultimately get to Box Elder County,” he said. “I didn’t want the property to develop out and cause a much greater expense to the taxpayer. … I’m grateful that they’re finally realizing, ‘Hey, it’s cheaper now.’ It’s going to save them a lot of money.”
He added that he doesn’t object to UTA’s time frame for reestablishing services.
“It would be wonderful to have faster service here. But practically speaking, the fact that they are going to need a separate track from UP because of the collision warning systems that they have are not compatible … I think 2030-2040 is a realistic goal for them,” he said.
Holbrook said these plans for expansion depend on funding and growth.
“The next phase would be to obtain funding,” she said. “You can then build the extension — that would be building the dedicated rail piece.”
She said that existing FrontRunner service is back to around 80% of pre-COVID-19 ridership figures and that the Wasatch Front is seeing heavy growth.
Call said he’s happy to see the process continuing to move forward.
“UTA, as a whole, has really started to look to the future as opposed to just concentrating on the present,” he said. “That’s a good thing for everybody concerned.”