UT: $845K Ogden Transit Project Study Hearing Set

June 20--OGDEN -- The lingering and often changing Ogden transit project has been through many iterations over the past several years, but the latest version of the plan is now ready to be scrutinized.

The Utah Transit Authority will hold a community open house from 5 to 7 p.m. June 25 at Ogden High School, 2828 Harrison Blvd. UTA spokesman Remi Barron said the meeting will serve as a "public kickoff" for a plan that aims to shuttle people between downtown Ogden and Weber State University and McKay-Dee Hospital. Formal public comments will be collected at the open house and integrated into the study.

Formally known as the Ogden-Weber State University Transit Project Study, it is an environmental assessment that will build on previously collected data and focus on two recommended alternatives from a 2011 analysis that yielded no outcome.

The study will include two routes, with one heading up 23rd Street to Washington Boulevard, then up 25th Street to Harrison Boulevard, and along Harrison to the university and the hospital. A second route would go up 23rd Street to Washington, then up 30th Street to Harrison and finally to the school and hospital.

Different mode alternatives, like a streetcar or a bus rapid transit system, will also be evaluated.

Barron said the current study is the next step in the transportation planning process and will evaluate and define an alignment and mode of transportation to develop a locally preferred alternative that is the most competitive for federal funding.

The study costs a total of $845,410, with funding being divided among UTA at $422,705, the Utah Department of Transportation at $50,000, WSU at $100,000, McKay-Dee Hospital at $20,000 and Ogden City at $252,705.

Although many of the details have changed, UTA and Ogden have been working on the project for nearly 10 years now. The timeline for the project is deep and complicated.

The project first showed up on the Wasatch Front Regional Council's Regional Transportation Plan in the 1990s and an initial study on it began in November of 2004.

In 2007, the city administration produced a document that considered downtown connections to places including WSU, Boyer Business Depot Ogden, Ogden Canyon, Ogden-Hinckley Airport and the Newgate Mall.

In 2008, the city decided the most feasible option was a system that connected downtown to WSU and McKay-Dee. The city contributed $290,000 to another study on the project at the time. Public scoping meetings were held and a Draft Environmental Impact Statement was created in 2009.

In 2011, the city council voted unanimously that the preferred alternative for the project should be a streetcar running from 23rd Street to Washington, Washington to 25th Street, 25th Street to Harrison, and Harrison to WSU and McKay-Dee. The council maintained that route would foster development and best serve residents.

But a study spearheaded by UTA indicated the preferred route should be from the Intermodal Hub along 23rd Street, to Washington Boulevard, along Washington to 36th Street to Harrison Boulevard and then to the university and the hospital.

With the conflict on the preferred route, the council requested that the study be put on hold.

In early 2012 the city held a "fact-finding" work session on the issue, with presentations made by WSU, the Ogden Trolley District group, and the Sierra Club. After another year or so of discussion, a joint resolution authorizing the latest study was adopted by the city council in May of 2013.

The stakeholders have been involved in the study since then.

Barron said the ideal result of the study is to produce an alternative that will increase mobility, connectivity and travel choices between downtown and the university and hospital as well as promote economic and community development within Ogden.

For more information in the current iteration of the project or to submit comment without attending the open house, interested citizens can send an email to Ogden-WSU@rideuta.com or call 801-236-4798.

Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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