OGDEN — The Utah Transit Authority and Ogden City are trying to secure additional dollars for the city’s Bus Rapid Transit project — money that would offset fares on the system for three years.
UTA has submitted a letter of intent to the Wasatch Front Regional Council, notifying Utah’s metropolitan planning arm of its aim to target federal funds to pay for operating costs on the BRT system for three years. UTA expects 3,300 riders on the first day of service, with ridership increasing as time goes on. Once installed, the service would cost $1.7 million annually for maintenance and operation.
Mary DeLoretto, director of Capitol Projects for UTA, recently told the agency’s board that a full application, submitted by Ogden City with help from UTA, will be filed with the WFRC later this week.
The BRT project would provide a fixed transit connection between Ogden’s downtown, Weber State University and the McKay-Dee Hospital.
The service would originate at the Ogden UTA 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.
UTA is seeking a Federal Transit Administration Small Starts grant, which would fund about 65% of the total cost of the project. The preliminary cost and construction schedule is required to be submitted before that grant can be awarded. The agency hopes to have the contractor selected and the subsequent cost estimate in place by spring of 2020. To date, the project has been valued anywhere from $60 million to $80 million.
DeLoretto told the board supporting the request to offset fares on the system for three years is a top priority. The agency is conducting a similar free fare period on its Provo-Orem BRT system. UTA hopes the free fares will spur ridership.
The Ogden project would require the acquisition of about 1 acre of right-of-way to build bus-only lanes on Harrison Boulevard from 31st Street to the WSU campus. Carriage Cleaners, which is located at 3205 S. Harrison Blvd., will need to be acquired, demolished and relocated in order to build the lane. A nearby 7-Eleven, which is located at 3195 S. Harrison Blvd., would lose its sign and gas pumps, likely rendering the business unviable.
Closer to WSU, a home at 1341 Country Hills Drive will need to be removed as part of the project.
If the federal money is secured, construction on the BRT system would likely begin in late 2020, with the line finished by 2023.