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Vineyard does final preparations for groundbreaking of new FrontRunner station

By Genelle Pugmire daily Herald - | May 3, 2021
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FrontRunner tracks run northbound near Vineyard Connector Road in Vineyard on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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FrontRunner tracks run southbound near Vineyard Connector Road in Vineyard on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Vineyard Connector Road spans over FrontRunner tracks in Vineyard on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Maps of Vineyard as it is built out. from the FrontRunner train station across from Utah Valley University property, to the long esplanade from the station to the beachfront properties at Utah Lake.  Courtesy @geneva

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The site of the new Vineyard Station is just north of the area in the photo and will be a gateway to the new Vineyard downtown area plan. May 3, 2021. 

The next step for the future of Vineyard is happening in just two weeks as Utah Transit Authority prepares for the groundbreaking of a new FrontRunner station in the city.

The groundbreaking for the new Vineyard FrontRunner station will be at 2 p.m. on May 13. Representatives from the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah State Legislature and Utah Transit Authority will be among the guests.

Before then, a few finishing touches in preparation for the festivities are in the works, according to George Angerbauer, public relations specialist with UTA.

“We are thrilled to add this new Vineyard Station and FrontRunner service,” Angerbauer said.

UTA is happy when cities look into the future and plan now for growth and transportation expansion, according to Angerbauer.

When you look that far ahead you create a lot of opportunity, you create a lifestyle. Vineyard has done a great job planning, Angerbauer said.

“With this new station, FrontRunner has even greater capability to connect students, commuters, recreation seekers, remote family members and anyone wishing to travel across the beautiful Wasatch Front,” Angerbauer said.

One of the exciting parts of the Vineyard station plans is the double-track that will be laid from the station and north 2 miles.

“UTA is adding $10 million for the necessary double-track section approximately 2 miles north of the station to improve regional mobility — this is the first section of double track installed since its (FrontRunner’s) opening, and we are working toward additional double track areas to decrease travel time and increase reliability,” Angerbauer said.

The process

Mayor Julie Fullmer has been working on this project for the past four years, nearly continually. It was not easy, but because of it, the Vineyard Station will be ready for the future growth of the city.

“In 2018 we were able to get $4 million in funding for the FrontRunner station,” Fullmer said. “Designs had begun when we learned that there was an unfunded mandate needed for positive train control, which slows down the trains.”

Vineyard and Fullmer were told it wouldn’t affect the train station but they found out as they were getting ready to move forward that the double tracking was necessary for the station to open.

“This would end up costing roughly $25 million. We needed to get a state road in at the time, closing off our westward economic opportunity,” Fullmer said. “The Union Pacific Railroad was shutting down our eastward economic opportunities and this had been our ray of light as a viable economic solution to the community.”

Fullmer said she called some friends and they walked through the UTA budget. They found funding and refinancing options that could facilitate the investment and save UTA funding.

“We put together information on the future of FrontRunner, the importance of Transportation Oriented Developments and the fast-growing community I was managing,” Fullmer said. “While it was an exquisitely steep uphill battle, fiscally acute and innovative individuals such as Rep. Mike Shultz (R-District 12), caught the vision of the transformation it would have on the future of FrontRunner and the need for the community.”

Fullmer held several brainstorming sessions and discussions with key stakeholders. Representatives on the UTA Board began working with her to put needed fiscal changes into action.

“My representative Val Peterson (R-District 59) supported these efforts, making calls and taking meetings on each forthcoming issue, and Rep. Kay Christofferson (R-District 56) relayed the need to UTA at the committee hearings, as the entity reported their objectives to the state.”

Fullmer went on to say that stakeholders from all over the state came and walked the area, took UTA shuttles through the site and rode the FrontRunner line with her to better understand the issues.

The Utah County mayors and Mountainland Association of Governments recognized the changes double tracking would have on their communities, their future stations and the multimodal connection into the northern Utah County located in Vineyard.

“They nominated me to serve on the advisory council to UTA to begin implementing changes geared toward the future,” Fullmer said.

New Executive Director Carolyn Ganot and several UTA trustees advanced the initiative and advocated in support of Fullmer’s recommendation.

“In 2019 the funding for the station was secured and the design process began,” Fullmer said. “Our new landowners around the station worked hard to get the zoning and property designated to promote the transit-oriented development in an innovative mixed used design focused on human scale design and built for connection.”

UDOT, UTA, MAG and Vineyard staff jointly kept the project on track working collaboratively to incorporate environmentals, contracts with private rail corporations and with the Army Corp of Engineers.

“The legislative investment toward FrontRunner was a match of good faith toward the changes and progress that includes this double tracking,” Fullmer said.

Through many hardworking hands, the shape of mobility is becoming more cost effective and accessible, Fullmer noted.

Vineyard City is a valued partner of UTA, along with every other city within UTA’s service area, Angerbauer added.

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