UTA advances nearly $24M for contested Provo-Orem mass transit

Utah advances nearly $24M for contested Provo-Orem mass transit

(KUTV) A vote by the UTA board on Friday likely put a contested Provo-Orem mass transit project on the fast track.

“At the present time, the project is now underway,” said UTA Interim President and CEO Jerry Benson, who urged an “advance” of nearly $24 million for the Provo-Orem Transportation Improvement Project, otherwise known as TRIP.

The centerpiece is Bus Rapid Transit, that UTA described as working “just like TRAX, with stations, frequent service every five to ten minutes, and prepaid ticketing, except it runs on a road instead of a rail.”

Federal funding is expected, and so is local government bonding, though neither is certain.

Some told the UTA board, in no uncertain terms, they’re not along for the ride.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think this was a stupid thing to do,” said Jim Fawcett, a project critic, who insisted buses and cars should use the same lanes, instead of dedicated thoroughfares. “We don’t want it.”

Cindy Richards, a former Provo city councilwoman was for bus rapid transit before she was against it.

“First off, it was under $10 million,” she said of earlier iterations of the plan. “The total now is $190 million.”

Money well spent thought board members and mayors of Provo and Orem.

“This action is a normal part of advancing significant transit infrastructure projects,” CEO Benson said, adding no advance now could mean millions in extra project costs later.

Moments later, UTA chair H. David Burton called for a vote on the funding, and said, “the motion passes.”

Speed bumps, however, may be ahead.

A potential court fight is looming -- one that could go all the way to the Utah Supreme Court.

Opponents have also collected petition signatures for a referendum that could slow -- and critics hope stop -- a Utah County road ‘TRIP.’

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