Early sentiment nearly knocked it off the rails, but 20 years later TRAX is a click-clacking success


Larry Troost, who has been a line and signal technician for TRAX since it launched, shakes hands with Eddy Cumins, chief operating officer of Utah Transit Authority, during a 20th anniversary celebration of TRAX at the City Center Station in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019.

Larry Troost, who has been a line and signal technician for TRAX since it launched, shakes hands with Eddy Cumins, chief operating officer of Utah Transit Authority, during a 20th anniversary celebration of TRAX at the City Center Station in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Two decades ago it was a city flush with excitement, just days away from a massive millennial celebration and only two years out from becoming the epicenter of international sports as host of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

But then-Salt Lake City Councilman Carlton Christensen mostly remembers standing in front of the downtown ZCMI Center on Dec. 4, 1999, to celebrate the opening of the 15-mile TRAX light rail line from Salt Lake to Sandy on a day that was both frigidly cold and fraught with controversies swirling around the massive project.

Christensen, now the chairman of the Utah Transit Authority board of trustees and participating in an event Wednesday held in the very spot where the new $312 million TRAX Blue Line was christened 20 years ago, also noted the TRAX debut marked the start of a transit-driven transformation that would eventually lead to positive impacts on communities up and down the Wasatch Front.

“Twenty years ago on Dec. 4, the first TRAX line from Sandy to Salt Lake opened to the public,” Christensen said. “After decades of planning and not without some initial controversy.

“It was a day — as a young, newly-elected member of the Salt Lake City council — that I could see the future of Salt Lake City changing and how integral transit would be to that experience.”

Since that time, six additional legs of UTA’s TRAX have been completed, growing the system to some 44 miles of routes and 50 stations. The trains …read more

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