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Legislature Wants to Change How Utah Transit Authority Operates

A bill introduced in the Utah State Legislature would curtail the UTA's ability to partner in new transit oriented development projects.
February 13, 2017, 11am PST | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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Andrew Smith

A bill introduced by Utah State Senator Wayne Harper is seeking to reshape how the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) currently does business. Lee Davidson of The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the bill would reduce the number of UTA commissioners from 16 to eight, create a citizen advisory committee, and block the UTA from entering into new development deals for transit oriented development.

The bill proposes to ban UTA from entering into partnerships for more transit-oriented developments beyond eight previously approved by the legislature, and would require formal cost-benefit analyses of ones in the works to show that investment in them benefits the public and would improve transit service.

In such developments, UTA usually uses excess land it owns at rail stations to partner with developers for residential and commercial projects designed to increase transit ridership. But audits have criticized sweetheart deals for some developers and building large garages for their projects that sat mostly empty for years because of developer delays.

In the article, Harper notes that due to a potential drop-off in federal funding for transit projects, competition for funds with highways, bike paths, and pathways will require additional need for coordination. Other bills in the legislature are seeking to limit the ability of UTA employees to unionize.

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Published on Friday, February 3, 2017 in The Salt Lake Tribune
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