OUR TRANSPORTATION NETWORK
This is a dramatic time of change for our region's transportation network. In the recent past, the city's main freeway has been rebuilt, a core light rail system has been put in place, spurs connecting that light rail spine are taking shape, commuter rail is being added, and our regional bus network is being adapted to work with all of these changes.
Downtown Rising supports these exciting regional developments, while also endorsing key recommendations of the new Salt Lake City Downtown Transportation Plan process underway concurrently with this effort.
Thousands of employees, students, shoppers and visitors come to downtown Salt Lake City every day from every direction of the compass. These people provide energy and lifeblood to downtown; they are an indispensable audience for the city's attractions. Downtown thrives with excellent highway connections and, more recently, light rail service. With planned TRAX spurs to western, southwestern and southeastern parts of the valley - combined with commuter rail service to Ogden and eventually to Provo - new ways of getting downtown will strengthen the city's connection to surrounding areas. What's more, these connections provide new opportunities for downtown residents to visit suburban areas without having to drive a car.
Downtown Rising supports as a signature project the extension of the TRAX system to the Salt Lake City International Airport, to South Jordan, to West Valley City and to Draper. In addition, commuter rail to the Provo/Orem area is a priority, as is the development of a bus rapid transit or light rail corridor north from downtown into southern Davis County.
Salt Lake Central Station
For the past several years, Salt Lake City and the Utah Transit Authority have been working to create a multimodal transit center on 600 West between 200 South and 300 South. This "intermodal hub" is already the home of cross-country coach services, AMTRAK rail service and UTA bus service. TRAX light rail is being extended to the station to provide easy connections to downtown for commuter rail passengers when service to the Ogden area goes on line in 2008.
Downtown Rising encourages UTA and Salt Lake City to proactively develop the surrounding area as a lively mixed-use neighborhood, with a renamed "Salt Lake Central Station" at its heart.
As new routes are added to the TRAX system, it will be necessary to add new tracks in the downtown area to accommodate more trains. This need provides the opportunity over the next five to 10 years to create one or more light rail/streetcar loops downtown. Downtown Rising strongly supports this proposal, which would provide rail service every 3-5 minutes, improving mobility and parking and enhancing regional air quality. In the meantime, UTA plans to simplify downtown bus routes to create shuttle corridors on key streets, such as 200 South and State Street.
Each of downtown's streets serves a slightly different role - some are key walking routes, others are vital regional traffic arteries and some serve an important role for public transportation. Despite their role for moving traffic, all downtown streets, regardless of their primary function, must be beautiful and convenient for pedestrians. The following streets are recommended for priority action to improve their beauty and walkability.
200 EAST has the potential to be the focus of a revived urban neighborhood. While automobile traffic would still be a primary use of the street, 200 East could spur development by providing active open space in a "Park Avenue" concept similar to the center park blocks on 500 West or 600 East. Turning 200 East into a dynamic urban street is a signature project of Downtown Rising.
WEST TEMPLE plays a key role in moving automobiles through downtown. Nonetheless, West Temple has a tremendous opportunity to be transformed into a pedestrian-friendly boulevard, linking together major hotels on the south to the Salt Palace, Symphony Hall, City Creek Center and Temple Square complex to the north. Modifications suggested through the Downtown Rising process include: Retail uses that greet the street and feature prominent entrances for pedestrians. Changes to the Salt Palace facade to provide purposeful pedestrian destinations along the west side of West Temple. These could include a "City History" walk, a linear sculpture garden, kiosks and food carts, and outdoor dining. Plant more shade trees, install more wayfinding signs, repurpose turning lanes to create pedestrian refuges, public art or landscaping, and explore reconfiguring on-street parking to provide more parking opportunities.
GRAND BOULEVARDS (500 SOUTH AND 600 SOUTH). These two streets are the principal auto gateways into and out of the city. Both streets should be grand expressions of a capital city; they should provide a more dignified entrance and exit. More-stately and urban boulevards can be accomplished by adding monumental trees and distinctive lighting to form a canopy over the streets, reducing the number of large signs that visually conflict with the concept of a grand gateway, building multi-story structures to the edge of the sidewalk, and preventing visible surface parking lots.
100 SOUTH east of the Salt Palace Convention Center is a prime opportunity to create a new gathering space. Traffic demands on this section are low. A pedestrian-oriented street could showcase the Salt Palace tower and a growing restaurant scene. First South could thus become a linear park filled with people, but still open to auto movement and on-street parking, not unlike Rio Grande Street in the center of The Gateway.
200 SOUTH provides a major link for bus and automobile traffic traveling east to west through the city. It also serves as a critical corridor linking the core downtown area with Salt Lake Central Station.
Downtown Rising supports the designation of streets as either "boulevards," "transit corridors," or "promenades." Here's the distinction:
BOULEVARD Quality design on these key traffic arteries imbues all of downtown with the feeling of vibrancy. These are the main entry and exit points for people traveling by automobile. A pedestrian would feel comfortable on these decidedly urban, landscaped streets.
TRANSIT CORRIDOR Downtown relies on transit. These corridors put priority on the convenient movement of buses and trains yet cars continue to be welcome. All trips start and end with walking, so these streets must be walkable.
PROMENADE While cars are still welcome, the pedestrian gets priority on these beautiful walking routes.