Salt Lake City Booms & the Trax Will Soon Run to the Airport

I stepped out of the Salt Lake City airport terminal and met my host, Jessica, who arrived in a big van. Perfect, I thought, for carrying skis, since I was here for just that reason. After a stop at a ski shop, I asked her what people were talking about lately in Salt Lake.

“There are two things,” she answered. “Economic development, and transportation.” One of the first things I noticed in the city was a light-rail system, which is called Trax. “That goes all the way to Sandy,” Jessica said, which is about 20 miles away. “Another line goes to the university…and this spring they’re building a line that will go from downtown all the way to the airport!” You can also take a train up to Ogden, near where some of the ski areas are located.

The economic development story here is that it’s booming. Companies like Goldman Sachs have built large offices, others like eBay are building gigantic data centers. There are new factories, new high tech centers, and a local air base will benefit with a big defense order in the years ahead. “Utah has the youngest population of any US state,” she added.

“Is that because of the Mormons?” I asked. “The LDS is part of it,” she said, ” though in Salt Lake the percentage of LDS families is much lower than in the cities of Provo and Orem, where it’s much, much higher.”

Though there are these convenient light rail lines criss-crossing the city, and a big mixed-used development is being built here that will capitalize on proximity to the rail plus other amenities, she said that most people still have cars, and she doesn’t know anyone who relies on public transportation entirely. “I like to be able to jump in my car and drive to Wyoming, or up to the mountains, so you still need a car.”

But most of the best ski resorts in Utah are located within 30 minutes of the capital city…so there’s no need for a long drive or another flight to get to the skiing. A definite advantage over Aspen. As usual, there’s no shortage of the powdery snow, either. So far this year they have received 480 inches, and it’s only the beginning of March. Usually they expect about 500 inches for the whole year