Exactly when FrontRunner will be pulling into town is still up in the air, but plans for extending commuter rail this far north have recently taken a big step, officials say.
Deliberation has reached the routing stage, with the Utah Transit Authority studying right-of-way options to extend FrontRunner from Pleasant View to Brigham City, they said. City officials were advised of that development this past fall.
"We are in the early process of rail corridor procurement and preservation," UTA spokesman Remi Barron said Monday. "We're talking to the cities to get that process underway. It's just early planning right now, early discussions."
"It's a significant step," Brigham City Manager Bruce Leonard said.
"They've felt pretty good that, as we grow especially, there is an unmet demand," said Paul Larsen, city economic development director. "That the market is there, that it pencils out."
Commuters to benefit include the more than 2,500 Box Elder County residents who work in Weber County, and the more than 1,600 from Weber who work in Box Elder; even the 14 souls counted from Utah County who work in Box Elder.
Those numbers are extrapolated from a 2007 study by UTA based on Census Bureau projections, Larsen said.
UTA is pondering whether to go with an easement or ownership of the corridor, he said.
"Generally they like ownership, which is the case from Ogden to Provo," Larsen said. "From Ogden to Pleasant View they share the track with Union Pacific. I think they're leaning toward ownership from Pleasant View to Brigham."
The construction cost for a shared line is estimated at $72.3 million, according to a 2011 UTA estimate, while an exclusive line would cost $198.9 million. Annual operation and maintenance expenses would rise from $537,000 for a shared line to more than $1 million for the exclusive line.
But a firm deadline for a Brigham City Frontrunner stop is still to come, the officials said.
"There is no set timetable yet," Barron said.
At one point there was talk the service extension could be in place as soon as 2015, Leonard said. But now, he said, it's become a window of possibly several years or more from 2015, he said.
"It's an active ongoing process," Larsen said.
UTA revenue tied to sales tax has taken a hit since the recession begun in 2008, he said. "There has been a lot of transition in transportation funding. So it may mean a new financing mechanism."
Contact reporter Tim Gurrister at 801-625-4238, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @tgurrister
Copyright 2013 - Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah