TRAX in downtown Salt Lake City without power, morning commuters advised to plan ahead

The wire that provides electricity to power UTA's TRAX trains through a downtown area of Salt Lake City fell down late Tuesday night, Oct. 2, 2018. Crews are working through the night to repair it, but UTA is advising morning commuters to find an alternative means of getting work on Wednesday. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner
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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 3, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — Morning commuters planning to go through downtown Salt Lake City on TRAX will need to be ready with a “plan B” for getting around an area that lost all power to the trains late Tuesday night.

In the meantime, Utah Transit Authority is establishing bus bridges in anticipation of the morning rush as well as advising commuters to find an alternative means of getting to their destinations instead of using TRAX.

UTA tweeted: TRAX Update 12:17 am: Impacts to service expected to continue through the a.m. Buses will transport riders between Ballpark-Arena and Ballpark-Trolley. Expect delays on all lines — downtown riders may want to opt for other modes of transportation. Check back for updates.

Carl Arky, spokesperson for UTA, said the catenary wire, which powers and provides electricity to the TRAX trains, came loose and fell down in the area of 350 South and Main Street.

“The wire came down and made contact with a TRAX train,” Arky told reporters. “There was some searing on the front of the train, and some smoke involved as well. Possibly some flames, but that hasn’t been confirmed.”

“This is a critical spot, obviously,” Arky said in reference to the downtown location. “And it’s not just for one of our lines, it’s for all of our lines — blue, green, red lines.

“They all come through this area, downtown Salt Lake City, so this may go into the morning hours. In fact, it’s very likely it will not be repaired until maybe mid-morning.”

Arky said it isn’t known yet why the wire came down — it could be weather-related, and some witnesses said they saw lightning hit it. The cause is under investigation, and crews will be working all night to get to the source of the problem and make sure everything is mechanically sound again.

When the catenary wire came down, everything came to a halt. No power, no lights, and the doors on the train couldn’t automatically open.

“It was a tense moment, I’m sure, for the 30-some passengers on board, and we’re sorry for that,” Arky said. “It was a mechanical problem, nothing that we could foresee happening, so we’re just grateful that everyone got off in really good condition.”

He said one person had an injured wrist and was transported to the hospital, but other than that, there were no serious or significant injuries.

Arky wanted to stress that anyone intending to use TRAX in the morning should check RideUTA on Twitter before heading out. The trains will be running, but commuters will have to get around the section that has no power, and that means using a bus bridge or calling Uber or getting a ride with a friend.

“We don’t want people to be late for work,” he said.


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