Salt Lake City

Council District 2

The Westside – Fairpark, Glendale, Poplar Grove

Op-Ed: Train Traffic

On June 5, 2022, The Salt Lake Tribune published an op-ed from District Two Council Member, Alejandro Puy, regarding train traffic in Salt Lake City neighborhoods and what can be done to reduce it. Read the full op-ed below:

SLC has an opportunity to reduce train traffic in our neighborhoods

It’s a scene all too familiar to my constituents: Traffic comes to a screeching halt at the 800, 900, and 1000 West rail crossings. And it’s not the minor inconvenience many of us face in our day-to-day travels. It’s enormous 80-car trains that can block passage for an hour.

As a Salt Lake City Council member and resident of the west side, I know what difficulty these trains cause, not only for those who call our community home but also for many who travel here every day. But we may have a generational opportunity to reduce the train traffic in our neighborhoods and ease the brutal delays caused by trains on the westside.

This chance to make the gridlock go away is dependent on the forward-thinking, collaboration and community focus of a property owner and two competing property purchasers. Right now, the Utah Inland Port Authority, Patriot Rail and the real-estate arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are negotiating a land deal worth millions of dollars to those involved.

But what is being considered should be far broader than just dollar signs. They are effectively negotiating not just the future of trains on the westside of our city; they also have the opportunity to bring greater stability, safety and vitality to our neighborhoods.

A deal, properly done, could significantly reduce existing train traffic in residential areas of Poplar Grove and the Fairpark. Federal funds may be available to allow Patriot Rail (Salt Lake Garfield and Western Railway) to move its East Yard operations out of the Poplar Grove neighborhood, thereby considerably reducing the number of Patriot Rail trains on those neighborhood railroad tracks.

It is my sincere hope that the influential and powerful parties involved will think beyond numbers on a spreadsheet when making these decisions and see that this is an opportunity toward meaningful change. Think of the child who needs to go to a hospital in a crisis, or the parent stuck at an intersection needing to pick up a child from day care to avoid high late fees, and the workers trying to get home at the end of a long shift.

The human impact of this decision can’t be overstated. Imagine, if you will, that periodically, throughout every day, a wall is erected around your neighborhood. The wall is temporary of course, but its schedule is unknown to you or any of your neighbors, making daily errands such as dropping children off at school, commuting to work and enjoying access to downtown difficult to accomplish.

Negotiating something this big will not be easy; however, the results of these discussions can have a tremendously positive impact on this historically marginalized community. The well-being of the residents including their health and safety — clean air, lifesaving emergency services, access to hospitals and businesses — hangs in the balance of the decisions made by these organizations.

I appreciate the support of Council Chair Dan Dugan, who said, “The top priority of this [port] project must be the health and safety of the west side residents. All else will fall in place and businesses will succeed when this priority is achieved first.”

If we all come together, there is an opportunity here to build a strong relationship of trust between decision-makers and the community who will be most impacted. I hope we create something Salt Lake City can be proud of. There is hope on the horizon and I believe it can happen.

Alejandro Puy is the Salt Lake City Council Member for District Two, which is known for the International Peace Gardens and some of the most diverse communities in the city, as well as many transportation hubs.

To log in to the Tribune for the article, click here.


Share "Op-Ed: Train Traffic" to your social network: