Federal and local officials met in Draper on Friday to celebrate the completion of a new light rail line there. The new TRAX line will connect Draper to Salt Lake City and other areas in the region. The project was the final step in a broader effort by UTA to improve public transportation by 2015. The program, called Frontlines 2015, finished two years early and three hundred million dollars under budget.
It was a star-studded event in Draper on Friday. Governor Gary Herbert, Senator Orrin Hatch, and new United States Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx were all present for the opening of Draper’s new TRAX line.
Secretary Foxx earned a reputation as a public transportation advocate as mayor of Charlotte. He says commuters in growing communities are constantly battling increased travel times. But Foxx says public transit can help alleviate that problem.
"The great thing about this track and the train that will travel on it is that the trip will always be the same amount of time. And that is worth its weight in gold," Foxx said. "Because many families in this country simply want their time back. They want the time to spend with their families, time to get to their soccer games, the time to get to work, and that's what you're doing by building this vision."
Governor Herbert warmly welcomed the new transportation secretary, who was sworn into office in July. Herbet also lauded the state’s ability to complete the project so efficiently.
"I'm here to emphasize to you, that's the Utah way. That's how we do things here in Utah. We do things on time, we do them under budget. We live within our means, we don't borrow unneccessarily, and consequently we don't have an overburden to put upon the taxpayers and people of Utah," Herbert said.
Senator Hatch, who voted along with ninety-nine other senators to unanimously confirm Foxx’s nomination, said he looks forward to working with the new secretary.
I'm particularly pleased to have the secretary here. He's a really fine man. He's really done a great job in Charlotte, and he's open to all of us. He's been open to us representing Utah," Hatch said.
On Saturday, UTA is planning a food drive to celebrate the Draper extension. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., passengers can ride UTA for free in exchange for a non-perishable food item.