by Mike Allegra, P.E., Dir. of Transit Development; Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake City, UT,
David Warnock, P.E., Assoc. Vice Pres.; DMJM, Inc., Salt Lake City, UT,
Bob Whedon, P.E., Assoc. and Sr. Proj. Mgr.; Carter & Burgess, Inc., Salt Lake City, UT,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2000, Vol. 70, Issue 10, Pg. 48-51,79

Document Type: Feature article


The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) completed its 15 mi (24 km), 16-station light-rail transit system, called TRAX, 13 months ahead of schedule and more than $20 million under budget. The system was constructed on 2.5 mi (4 km) of city streets and 12.5 mi (20 km) of an existing railroad corridor. The long, linear, north-south orientation of Salt Lake City made the area a prime candidate for rail transit. TRAX was one of the first systems in the country to run light-rail on a line that would be shared by freight trains, which created design challenges. Where light-rail and freight would share the alignment, 133 lb/yd (66kg/m) rail was used and curves were reduced to fall within the safety limits for freight. Freight traffic continued during construction, so the new double-track rail was constructed on half of the right-of-way at a time as the new rail was built beside the old. Reuse of track, ties, and switches found on the existing rail corridor generated considerable savings. The project team met some unexpected obstacles, including the remains of a Native American village. To allow archaeologists enough time to address the site, the team changed the construction sequence, working on other sections of the line first. Elsewhere on the line, soil contamination required mitigation. In some areas, contaminated material was encapsulated within landscaping berms along the corridor. The biggest environmental problem was at a freight-switching yard, where contaminated material was excavated and placed inside a neoprene barrier in a berm. Several irrigation canals crossed the corridor; these had to be rerouted or redesigned. In June, the UTA began construction on a 2.5 mi (4 km) east-west light rail extension to connect downtown Salt Lake City with the University of Utah. The UTA used a design/build contract to save time, because it hopes to complete the extension by the end of 2001, in time for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Subject Headings: Rail transportation | Freight transportation | Light rail transit | Transportation corridors | Team building | Soil pollution | Salts

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