The Speaking Eagle
Expected TRAX Extension May Benefit JD CommutersWednesday, May 02, 2012 By Jillian McClure
Many JD commuters are anxiously awaiting the planned extension of the TRAX line to Pioneer Road in Draper -- especially Juan Diego students who want an easier commute to school. The Draper TRAX line is scheduled to open sometime between 2013 and 2014. The extension will run from the current stop at 10000 South in Sandy to 12400 South (Pioneer Road) in Draper. This adds 3.8 miles and three new stops, two of which could impact JD students. The 11400 S. and 300 E. stop will be about half a mile away from the Skaggs Catholic Center campus, and the 11800 S. and 700 E. stop will be roughly a third of a mile away. The JD administration’s main concern is that there is no sidewalk between the closer stop and the school to keep pedestrians safe. Grass is on the north side of the road and there is only a partial sidewalk on the south side. Juan Diego administrators are looking at the plans announced by TRAX to determine what steps may need to be taken to ensure safety and convenience for JD students and staff who may utilize the new stop and route. They have also asked Draper city officials what safety provisions will be taken to make it safer. “They are currently studying the options,” said JD’s Transportation Coordinator, Michael Cavanaugh. There are many factors that must be considered before JD can make any decisions. Some of the JD TRAX riders are in elementary and middle school so the school must be sure that the eventual plan is safe for them, as well as high school students. Also, if the safety is improved and the students walk the short distance to school, would they make it by a reasonable time? “The question is how many more minutes does it take,” says Cavanaugh. Students from other communities outside of Draper who would like to go to JD would also have an easier route to school, and possibly be more open to enrolling. Only future students will benefit from the more accessible stop; however, some students who currently take TRAX to school think the new stop will eliminate some of the current hassles of commuting. “It will be closer and I won’t have to get on a bus,” says JD freshman Jordan Thompson. He rides TRAX to school for about 20 minutes until he reaches the bus pick-up. Thompson says he is excited for the extension of the TRAX line. Some students, such as freshman TRAX rider Milann Lechuga, depend on the system. “They are my only ride to school,” Lechuga said. She says it takes her at least ten minutes on TRAX until she gets to the JD bus pick-up. The last train students take gets to the current closest stop at about 7:30 in the morning. A JD bus meets them there and brings them to school by about 7:40. This schedule could make it more difficult for students to participate in school activities before or after the school day. The new stop could potentially take away some of this challenge and give students more freedom with their time. About 30 JD students take TRAX in the morning and 20 to 30 ride the train home in the afternoon. Requirements include a permission slip from parents saying the student is allowed to take TRAX to school. Additionally, the student must purchase a UTA year-long pass, which costs about ninety dollars. New stations could also potentially help alleviate school traffic. This year JD decided to stagger the dismissal times to try to eliminate the crowded parking lots. “This has helped tremendously,” said Cavanaugh. As the reality of the new TRAX stations approaches, JD looks into all of the options that will benefit commuting students.