High Valley Transit breaks ground on new headquarters
Those involved hope the operations and maintenance facility will shape the future of transportation across the Wasatch Back
The High Valley Transit District on Monday officially broke ground on an 8-acre plot of land that will house the district’s new headquarters near Home Depot off U.S. 40 — a feat those involved expect will help shape the future of transportation across the Wasatch Back.
High Valley Transit Executive Director Caroline Rodriguez was joined by Summit County officials, state leaders and elected representatives from Washington, including Sen. Mitt Romney and Rep. John Curtis, to celebrate the future location of High Valley Transit’s maintenance and operations campus. While the district is currently operating out of a tent in the Ecker Hill park-and-ride, the new facility will help High Valley Transit improve and expand its services.
“This facility will be critical to High Valley Transit’s expansion and to reach the vision of moving the Wasatch Back forward with sustainability, innovation and desirable transit,” Kim Carson, the chair of the High Valley Transit board of trustees, said on Monday.
After a welcome luncheon, High Valley Transit board of trustees members, the Summit County Council, representatives from the Park City Council, Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez and Capt. Andrew Wright, Romney, Curtis, as well as Sen. Ron Winterton, whose 26th congressional district includes Summit County, and Rep. Kera Birkeland, who represents Summit County in Utah House District 53, and others boarded a transit bus and traveled to the project site.
The ride gave officials firsthand experience of what it’s like for residents and visitors to use public transportation. Rodriguez explained along the way that High Valley Transit’s goal is for its system to remove the need for cars. If riders opted to take the district’s free, on-demand rides via minivans — known as micro transit — to fixed route stations and then take the bus to their final destination, there would be fewer vehicles on the roadway.
High Valley Transit’s new headquarters will support that mission by creating an 11,000-square-foot maintenance shop, an 18,000-square-foot administrative building and a 31,000-square-foot bus barn. The project is estimated to cost more than $24 million. When it’s completed, it will house 24 full-size buses as well as parking for smaller vehicles, a fuel station and the possibility of employee housing.
County Council Chair Chris Robinson highlighted the strategic value of the Old Highway 40 location, which will allow High Valley Transit to serve Park City, the East Side and Wasatch County. He said building the new headquarters is the first step in improving the infrastructure that’s needed.
Romney said High Valley Transit’s program will help move people around the valley and reduce traffic during busy times such as peak ski days or the Sundance Film Festival.
Carson said the district has had an amazing year. Since its launch in May 2021, High Valley Transit has added 25 square miles to its coverage, received about 45,000 app downloads and served about 1 million riders.
Rodriguez initially anticipated the groundbreaking would happen in March and High Valley Transit would begin occupying the maintenance facility by December. However, there were delays at the state level. Now, officials hope to start construction in June and complete the project in late 2023 or the spring of 2024.
Romney, in an interview with reporters after the groundbreaking, praised the federal government’s support. The Republican senator was a primary author of the White House’s Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which helped secure federal money for High Valley Transit projects.
“On this side of the Wasatch, the back valley if you will, you have a lot of people who work in this area that want to get in and out of our cities, Park City, for instance,” Romney said. “It’s hard to get around. And this transit system allows people to get to work easier. It also reduces the traffic on our highways. It’ll make it an easier ride for people to go skiing, but also to go to work.”
He continued, “The federal funding is $25 million for this project … This is precisely the kind of project that was contemplated by the [infrastructure] bill, which makes it easier for people to get to work, and to get to play, and at the same time reduce traffic on our highways.”
The nationwide initiative is intended to help modernize roads, bridges, transit and other public infrastructure. Money from the program will also help fund the completion of the S.R. 224 Bus Rapid Transit project. It was estimated to cost around $50 million and would construct designated public transportation lanes in each direction from Kimball Junction to Kearns Boulevard.
Curtis recalled riding his bicycle along the proposed route as a young man and said he was a strong advocate of bus rapid transit lanes while serving as mayor of Provo. He praised Summit County and High Valley Transit for doing hard things to build for the future and improve the quality of life for residents.
“If you’ve done [that commute] lately, you know it can be a bad start to a wonderful day,” Curtis said. “This, I think, will change that and make the whole experience much better for guests that come up in this area — and for residents who don’t have to fight with all of those cars.”
The red, white and blue transit buses that allow commuters, skiers and visitors to easily travel through Parleys Canyon will be reduced starting next Sunday, but a new agreement spearheaded by a county agency will ensure the critical connection remains intact.
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