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Will the Rio Grande train station get back on the rails?

Posted at 6:39 AM, Jan 27, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — A new proposal is on the rails forward to once again make the Rio Grande a working train station.

The historic Salt Lake City depot sitting just west of Pioneer Park closed to passenger service in 1999, but one organization has a big plan for how the state can revitalize the historic building.

Friends of the Rio Grande is trying to reopen the depot, while revamping the surrounding area. They say it would improve the safety and efficiency of transportation and open 70 acres of industrial land to new development.

The plan would move trains like the UTA FrontRunner underground and eliminate several train crossings above ground, believing it makes the area safer for pedestrians and emergency personnel.

"We're trying to increase safety by putting the trains in a train box beneath the ground," explained plan co-author Christian Lenhart. "We can close four, almost 4-and-a-half railroad crossings and there's fatalities at these crossings almost every year."

Organizers say there isn't an exact price for the plan, but they believe the revenue from the developments around the Rio Grande would help pay for the project. Other cities like Reno, Denver and Portland have completed similar projects and seen success.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall mentioned the plan during her State of the City address earlier this week and said the city has applied for a federal grant to explore the plan further.