FrontRunner may get federal money for more double tracking

Mar 14, 2023, 7:30 PM

You may soon be able to get from Provo to Ogden on Frontrunner, faster. Specifically, the federal g...

A train pulls out of the new FrontRunner station in Vineyard on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — You may soon be able to get from Provo to Ogden on FrontRunner, faster.

Specifically, the federal government is going to partially fund a project to double-track FrontRunner tracks in eight different spots.

It’s one of two projects in Utah included in President Joe Biden’s newly proposed budget. The other is a mid-valley bus rapid transit project that would enhance bus-only lanes in Murray, Taylorsville, and West Valley City. And those would connect to FrontRunner. 

Double tracking part of FrontRunner expansion

Right now, a single track carries two FrontRunner trains, one going north and one going south. More double tracking could allow the trains to pass each other at the same time.

“The additional trains that we can add to the system can really help increase our ridership,” said Mary DeLoretto, Utah Transit Authority’s Chief Service Development Officer.

DeLoretto said FrontRunner expansion will increase stop frequency to every 15 minutes instead of every 30 minutes. She said it will also increase frequency to every 30 minutes from every 60 minutes at other times of the day.  

According to the project summary, it will also include the “purchase of 10 trainsets, and signal improvements. … This additional service increases overall capacity by at least 55 percent.”

Easing east-west crowding

DeLoretto said the proposed funding for the new mid-valley bus route will help some of Utah’s growth that’s occurring in patterns that are not just north to south.

According to UTA’s website, “The Midvalley Connector BRT will connect Murray Central Station to the SLCC Redwood Campus and West Valley Central Station.”

“We’re looking at FrontRunner as the spine, and then the east-west connections will be coming in through these other projects,” she said.

DeLoretto says an Ogden bus rapid project will also help with that.

How likely is the money for FrontRunner expansion?

DeLoretto said that, though there’s no guarantee, there is a “really high probability” the FrontRunner expansion project as well as the mid-valley connector project will get funded. 

“We do have great support from our federal delegation,” she said.  UTA leaders are currently in Washington D.C. meeting with Utah’s delegation to stress the importance of these projects.

In total, UTA says the FrontRunner project will cost an estimated $966 million dollars. The majority of that, around $671 million would come from federal funds. The rest is made up of state dollars.

The Transit Transportation Fund will contribute $220 million dollars. Another $75 million comes from UTA’s sales tax.

 Other reading:

UTA board looks at FrontRunner expansion in Utah County

Pedestrian hit and killed by UTA FrontRunner

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FrontRunner may get federal money for more double tracking