Opinion: Utah Transportation Bill a Step in the Right Direction

A Utah mayor writes in support of state legislation that tasks state agencies with coordinating major transit projects, citing it as a positive step toward accommodating Utah’s explosive growth.

May 10, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Salt Lake City, Utah

Andrew Smith / Flickr

In an opinion piece for Desert News, Troy Walker, mayor of Draper, Utah, explains his support for recently passed state legislation that “authorizes [Utah Department of Transportation] UDOT to manage and oversee transit capital projects that the Utah Transit Authority would then operate and maintain.”

According to Walker, “Utah is doubling in population and leading the country on a number of key economic metrics,” and its public transportation infrastructure should reflect this regional growth. “With a state agency delivering transit capital projects, the Legislature will likely feel more comfortable allocating additional state funding to transit. Over time, this could potentially make hundreds of millions of dollars available for regionally significant transit projects.”

As Walker points out, “Having a state department of transportation manage the delivery of a rail or bus line is not regularly done in other parts of the country. However, UDOT delivers multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects ahead of schedule and under budget all the time.”

On the benefits of the new bill, Walker writes that“HB322 institutionalizes collaboration between Utah’s largest transportation agencies and will ultimately save taxpayer resources through improved coordination and efficient streamlining of our critical transportation resources.”

Walker’s support for better public transit stems in part from Draper’s role as home to The Point, a planned development designed as a transit-oriented 15-minute community that Walker calls “arguably the most significant economic and quality-of-life opportunity in state history.” The goal of The Point, Walker argues, can only be achieved by providing residents with effective transit connections to other parts of the state. For now, while it prioritizes car-free transportation and multimodal travel, current plans for The Point include around 40,000 parking spaces, though developers are looking at ways to reduce this number.

Sunday, May 8, 2022 in Deseret News

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