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High Valley Transit works on new headquarters, expanded service into Wasatch County

Ben Lasseter
Wasatch County and High Valley Transit are exploring options to expand the Summit County service into the Heber Valley with a bus route from Heber City to the Park City Old Town Transit Center.

High Valley Transit is keeping busy heading into the winter season, with projects including buses to serve Wasatch County and bus rapid transit on SR-224.

High Valley Transit is breaking ground on its new facility near US-40 this week. Big D Construction has been brought on as the project’s construction manager.

High Valley Transit District Board Vice Chair David Geffen told KPCW they are waiting to learn from Big D the maximum amount the project will cost. He said he believes it will be around $25 million.

The transit district initially planned to move out of the white tents at Ecker Hill Middle School, which serve as temporary headquarters, in September. Geffen said they are currently looking for a substitute location while the facility gets built.

“We’ve been looking for alternatives for the white tent this winter," Geffen said. "We had hoped for the last nine months that we were actually going to be at the new facility by this winter, but that’s not going to happen. We’re hopeful we will have a temporary location to shelter our buses for the winter and service them. Then we can get that white tent out of Ecker, and start using it for its intended purpose - which is a park-and-ride.”

He said some High Valley staff could move into the new facility in 2023, and everyone should be in the new building by early 2024.

Other public transportation work is moving ahead simultaneously.

Most of the funding for the SR-224 bus rapid transit project is secured. That will involve building 12-foot lanes along SR-224 from Olympic Parkway in Kimball Junction to Kearns Blvd in both directions.

When complete, those lanes will be dedicated solely to bus service. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2024, with the goal of finishing the following year.

The total cost is in the $65 million range, and the district has roughly $55 million on hand thanks to federal and state grants.

Geffen said they will reach out for public feedback soon.

“We’re just in the environmental review process right now," he said. "We have a final design process as well that will take the next 6 to 9 months. And there will be a bit of public discussion for anyone who wants to be part of that, later this fall into the winter.”

The transit district is also in talks with Wasatch County, which currently does not have any public transportation.

The Wasatch County Council voted in June to levy a countywide sales tax of a quarter of a percent starting next year, which could generate about $2.5 million annually for public transit. That means for every $4 people spend in the county, they’ll pay an extra penny. Groceries and gas are excluded from that.

Wasatch County Manager Dustin Grabau said the county is aiming to launch service this winter in partnership with High Valley. That would include a fixed route connecting Heber City and Park City, along with micro transit within Wasatch County.

Geffen said High Valley is optimistic about the partnership.

“We are very excited about this," Geffen said. "Don’t underestimate the importance of that first tax. That will certainly allow Wasatch to get started to hopefully convince its constituents how important and useful service is in the Wasatch Back, in their county.”

Grabau said it’s likely that the county would need additional tax increases to expand the service further.