OGDEN — The West Haven and Pleasant View mayors are interested in serving the board that will advise the revamped body taking shape to run the Utah Transit Authority.
Pleasant View Mayor Leonard Call and West Haven Mayor Sharon Bolos both expressed interest in serving as the Weber County representative on the nine-member UTA Local Advisory Board, which is still taking form. The part-time body, with representatives from Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Weber, Tooele and Box Elder counties, will serve in an advisory capacity to the three full-time commissioners who will eventually take over day-to-day UTA management, per legislation state lawmakers approved earlier this year.
Call said he’s interested in serving on the body in part to press for extension of the UTA FrontRunner line north of Ogden to Pleasant View and on into Box Elder County. FrontRunner service to Pleasant View stops on Aug. 12 because of the high cost that would be required to update the section of rail line north of Ogden — actually owned by Union Pacific Railroad — per new federal safety regulations.
UTA officials have had years to acquire land to build its own rail line north of Ogden, Call said, but “they haven’t done anything.”
Bolos wants to serve on the body in part to advocate for extension of UTA transportation services to West Haven and other parts of western Weber County not served or underserved by the existing UTA bus and transportation network.
“I just to want to make sure that gets addressed,” Bolos said, noting the rapid population growth in the area, fastest in the county, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures.
Advisory board members will help set salaries of the three commissioners, who have yet to be named, and advise them on operational and management issues, among many other things.
“So they’ll have a very significant role in the UTA,” said Toby Mileski, who currently serves as the Weber County representative on the UTA Board of Trustees, the body being phased out that now helps manage UTA operations.
The Weber Area Council of Governments, or WACOG, made up of elected officials from around Weber County, will select the Weber County representative. They discussed the issue briefly at a meeting Monday and will tentatively take action at their next meeting on Sept. 10.
Utah lawmakers earlier this year approved the legislation overhauling the UTA, which outlines creation of the three full-time commissioner posts and the advisory body. The UTA faces seemingly never-ending scrutiny from critics suspicious of the body’s management and the new leadership is to take control by Nov. 1.
Per the legislation, the advisory board is to be made up of seven members named by local councils of governments, or COGs — three from Salt Lake County, two from Utah County and one each from Davis and Weber counties. Officials from Tooele and Box Elder counties are to name one representative for the two counties and Salt Lake City officials are to name another.
Call noted the growing population and traffic in the area in stressing the importance of extending UTA rail line for the FrontRunner north to the Business Depot Ogden, Pleasant View and Box Elder County.
“We’re just getting busier and busier on our roads and we have to get some alternative transportation going,” he said.
Bolos said extending the UTA network into western Weber County would help link that area and the Ogden area further east, providing connections to Weber State University and FrontRunner stations.
Meantime, Gov. Gary Herbert is still in the process of naming the full-time three-person commission that will lead UTA. Leaders from Weber and Davis counties jointly put two nominees to the governor last month for the post representing the two-county area, Bret Millburn and Beth Holbrook, but he has yet to make a selection. Officials from Salt Lake and Utah counties have also put nominees for the other two commission posts to the governor.
Millburn is a Davis County commissioner who serves on the existing UTA Board of Trustees while Holbrook is a member of the Bountiful City Council.