A torn up 200 South is still better than most Salt Lake City streets | News | Salt Lake City Weekly

A torn up 200 South is still better than most Salt Lake City streets 

On The Street

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A driver turns west onto 200 South before two crossing pedestrians have cleared the intersection. - BENJAMIN WOOD
  • Benjamin Wood
  • A driver turns west onto 200 South before two crossing pedestrians have cleared the intersection.

The City Weekly offices are on 200 South and, like much of SLC, we've been mired in construction for what feels like a lifetime. Businesses are hurting, commuters are frustrated and residents ... well, that's trickier.

Speed is the killer on streets. I'm sure there are bizarre anecdotes out there, but it's safe to say that very few people are killed by parked cars. Moving cars, however, claim an average of two lives per month in Salt Lake, not counting freeway collisions.

Road work tends to slow cars to a human scale (highway construction zones are a different matter entirely and incredibly dangerous), meaning pedestrians and cyclists interact with traffic at less of a disadvantage. What drivers experience as a reduction in flow is also a leveling of the playing field for vulnerable street users. That's not to say that construction is inherently good for walking—ADA compliance, goes down the toilet when heavy machinery shows up. But street work is also not the economic death knell it is often made out to be.

During construction, my wife and I have used 200 South to bike to concerts at Gallivan Center. I take 200 to work every day—it reaches the west side—and it's where I enjoy my lunch breaks, at some of the best establishments in the city. I used one such lunch break last week to do a walking audit. From our offices, I went east on 200 South, south on Main, northeast through Gallivan Plaza, north on Regent Street, west on 100 South and, finally, south on West Temple. I considered each block individually in terms of its pedestrian safety, accessibility and comfort.

Main Street, Gallivan and Regent Street were near-perfect, benefiting from previous improvements and renewed programming (the skating rink is pickleball now). But 200 South was highly competitive—construction and all—due to its wide, shaded sidewalks, second-to-none transit services and attractive patio spaces. West Temple and 100 South were the worst of the bunch. Imposing, high-speed lanes roared with traffic and the wide open asphalt and minimal tree cover baked under the heat dome sun.

I'm as excited as the next guy for the work on 200 South to end. SLC will finally have a true bus-priority lane—a game-changer for high-frequency connections in the Free Fare Zone—delivering scores of car-free customers to businesses' doors. While underhyped, 200 South is the most significant improvement to transit infrastructure since the creation of Trax and when it's finished, it will only make an already-great street all the better.

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About The Author

Benjamin Wood

Benjamin Wood

Bio:
Lifelong Utahn Benjamin Wood has worn the mantle of City Weekly's news editor since 2021. He studied journalism at Utah State University and previously wrote for The Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News and Entertainment Weekly

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