Draper Light Rail Extension

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Draper Light Rail Extension

Issue 1 of 2015


The Draper Light Rail Transit project in Draper, Utah, involved constructing 3.8 miles of electrified double track, two sidings, seven at-grade crossings and six traffic-signal-controlled pedestrian crossings to connect the Sandy/Draper rail system. To accomplish this, the project required extensive coordination and communication with the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), Sandy City, Draper City, WaterPro, Inc., and the Intermountain Farmers Association (IFA).

The Draper Light Rail Extension Design-Build Project was one of five projects in UTA’s ambitious FrontLines 2015 program to build 70 miles of rail lines in seven years. The program was completed in 2013 with the opening of the Draper line, two years ahead of schedule and significantly below the programmed budget.

The Draper extension was designed and constructed with a holistic awareness of the entire UTA system, successfully integrating with previously constructed segments of the light rail system and linking riders to other transit modes, including the bus system, commuter rail and streetcar. The Draper extension provides riders access to major business, educational, recreational and retail establishments throughout the area. Through implementation of a state-of-the-art signaling and communication system, passengers are aware of train schedules and are safely delivered to their destinations on time. The south end of the Draper extension provides a memorable and inspirational tribute to the agricultural and railroad history of the area that provided the groundwork for the implementation of this project.

At the beginning of the 27-month Draper project, the UTA faced significant financial challenges due to delays in receiving the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Full Funding Grant Agreement. As a result, UTA was unable to support project costs. The Kiewit, Herzog, Parsons Joint Venture (KHP) and UTA worked together to provide a solution to advance the project despite the funding gap. KHP deferred payment and UTA wrote multiple notices to proceed (NTP) to allow the work to progress while funding was secured. Due to this monumental partnering effort, UTA and KHP were able to stay on the original schedule and finish the project significantly under UTA’s original budget.

“We had a great team on the Draper project,” said KHP Project Manager Spencer Cruse. “The client, local cities and the design-build team worked together to ensure the project and related betterments were completed on time. On our team, everyone stepped up to the plate and executed on all levels and I saw many individuals broaden their capabilities.”

With a project corridor located adjacent to multiple residential areas, the KHP team took significant steps to ensure the public was always informed and that any concerns were addressed. In some cases, work was performed on property lines and in neighboring backyards. KHP worked with residents to minimize all unnecessary impact to the homeowners, and also worked closely with schools in the surrounding area to educate students on construction and rail safety. Throughout much of the corridor, a multi-use trail runs adjacent to the track alignment. KHP remained diligent about delineating the multi-use trail from any construction activities, which allowed the trail to remain open and available to the residents during construction activity.

The Draper project was a negotiated design-build contract, so the base-line schedule was developed during the negotiation phase. A milestone schedule was maintained and reviewed every week at the scheduling meeting to make sure all dates were met and any issues were communicated and resolved.

UTA Manager of Light Rail Engineering and Construction, E. Gregory Thorpe, P.E., said, “KHP has worked with UTA to achieve our financial objectives by working to prevent unnecessary costs, designing to UTA’s ’no frills budget’ and keeping contractor-requested change orders at a very low and reasonable level.”

It was only through effective partnering that the UTA and KHP team was able to successfully deliver this project. By seeking out cost-saving ideas while overcoming a multitude of challenges, the team was able to complete the project while exceeding expectations. The Draper LRT project is an excellent example of what a committed and talented team — working in true partnership — can achieve.

Thorpe said, “The teamwork shown by the management of KHP has produced a very satisfied client in UTA. Their attention to keeping UTA informed on all aspects of the project, developing solutions to provide an excellent project and paying attention to every detail, attests to the successful management of the project.”

The Draper Light Rail Project was honored by DBIA with a 2014 National Award of Merit in the Transportation category.

“I think everyone involved in the Draper LRT project walked away better off for being part of it,” concluded Cruse.