In response to the increasing transportation demands for the 2002 Winter Olympics, as well meeting the long-term needs of Salt Lake City and the surrounding districts, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) initiated $148.5million, 2.5 mile fast-track design-build light rapid transit (LRT) extension line from the Delta Center (now Vivint Smart Home Arena) to Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah.
UTAs vision was to expand the transit network throughout the Valley, adding four new lines to help alleviate the growing strain on the existing transportation infrastructure. To achieve its goals and objectives, the UTA needed a significant investment of taxpayer revenue. UTAs proposed solution was to raise sales tax in Salt Lake County by 25%, triggering a public referendum to approve and justify the tax increase.
In support of the project, Jim Bennett was retained as the project campaign manager to publicly champion the voter initiative and build voter confidence. The special assignment involved close collaboration with multiple private stakeholders and the Utah Transit Authority directly, to facilitate and coordinate messaging, strategy, and voter education. As a result of the campaign, the project received overwhelming support with an approval with a near 66% majority.
UTA, along with leading transportation infrastructure engineering consultants, created a JV design team responsible for the design, design support and construction management oversight for the track alignment and four new stations. To ensure the service operated successfully in time for opening ceremonies, the project was accelerated and completed three months ahead of schedule and yet still within budget. The project helped alleviate the growing strain on the existing transportation infrastructure, a key objective identified in the UTA master plan. In 2011, the line was integrated into UTA Transit Express Red Line service.