With the support of community members and leaders, Utah Transit Authority celebrated the opening of the new overhead pedestrian bridge at Provo Central Station with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Construction of the bridge spanned from Jan. 27 to October. The new overpass was built across two FrontRunner tracks and two Union Pacific Railroad tracks at approximately 600 South and 100 West in Provo.
Provo City Mayor Michelle Kaufusi explained the idea of building this overhead pedestrian bridge stemmed from a real concern for the safety of Provo residents and UTA riders.
“About six years ago, I started getting complaints of people saying they’re in their cars … seeing children zig zagging in and out and … people just dodging across (the railroads) because they’re trying to make it to the FrontRunner,” Kaufusi said.
To provide people with safer and more efficient access to the Provo Central Station, Provo City, UTA, the Wasatch Front Regional Council and the Mountainland Association of Governments collaborated to identify this need and petition for the Provo pedestrian bridge to become one of the 161 projects funded by the federal government’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant.
“We all worked together to identify these types of projects to remove barriers, to get people the right transit (and) to make it safe and efficient,” Michelle Carroll, MAG executive director, said.
According to Kaufusi and Carroll, funds received from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER grant were combined with local funds, such as Provo City funds and state dollars, to finance the approximately $7 million project.
Now completed, UTA Trustee Jeff Acerson said the Provo pedestrian bridge contains several “unique” features that aim to serve every aspect of the community.
“There’s a rail on the steps where you can actually put the tires of your bike on and … guide it up and down the stairways (and) we have the elevators which give increased mobility to those that need to use an elevator,” Acerson said.
When planning the pedestrian bridge, Kaufusi shared she felt strongly about having an elevator because she wanted this bridge to be “accessible to everyone in all abilities.” She also said the bridge includes a unique heating system to ensure it can be used year round.
Looking forward, Kaufusi explained Provo City has a lot of “big thinking projects” they are hoping will come into fruition in the next four to six years.
“We still are the number one work center for the whole county,” Kaufusi said. “People come into work for the day and then go out — we double our population everyday.”
Thus, Kaufusi said a lot of Provo’s future projects revolve around improving Provo’s “transportation network,” giving people better and safer transportation access “for the future and for the population growth that is projected to come.”