Unsexy street projects don't get much attention, but they make a big difference for Salt Lake City residents | News | Salt Lake City Weekly

Unsexy street projects don't get much attention, but they make a big difference for Salt Lake City residents 

On the Streets

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A new pedestrian bridge taking shape at 300 North will give west-side residents a reliable path over freight rail  lines. - BRYANT HEATH
  • Bryant Heath
  • A new pedestrian bridge taking shape at 300 North will give west-side residents a reliable path over freight rail lines.

Unless it's something like replacing an overpass in one evening, the ultra-widening of highways that displace residents, or—gasp!—installing speed bumps in an affluent (and traffic fatality-prone) section of town, transportation projects in Salt Lake City rarely make headlines. But at any given point in time, there are dozens of non-sexy projects around the city that slip under the radar but will have a lasting impact with respect to urban design, quality of life and resident safety.

Among the larger of such projects is the pedestrian bridge under construction on 300 North between 400 West and 500 West that provides passage over the railroad tracks (upper photo). Anyone who has commuted to/from the west side knows firsthand the frustration of getting caught behind a seemingly endless parade of freight rail. I once clocked a delay of 20 minutes before I was able to pass, while residents there have been stopped for as much as an hour at a time.

But if you live in or frequently visit the Guadalupe neighborhood, you'll soon have an alternative to the highly trafficked North Temple bridge by crossing the tracks on this new path.

Not all projects have to be so grandiose to have an impact. On a concrete median on Melbourne Street and Atkin Avenue (lower right), the city is running a pilot to measure the temperature reduction of so-called "heat islands" after applying a more reflective coat on its surface. This info will prove invaluable when trying to mitigate high temps at hotter, treeless areas of the city.

Additionally, traffic calming barriers—an intentional obstruction in an otherwise straight-shot road and thus, a speed deterrant—have recently been installed on Emery Street and on Ramona Avenue near 1100 East (lower left). The infrastructure serves as a speed-filtering entrance to the planned Sugar House Neighborhood Byway, one of many scattered throughout the city.

These "byways"—known as "bicycle boulevards" in other cities—are meant to be overtly cycling- and pedestrian-friendly streets that connect to community destinations within the city and are marked by low traffic volume and even lower driving speeds. It's an ambitious project that tends to spark reflex negativity from some residents, but existing byways—like 600 East and 800 East—prove that they do become popular over time. If you build it, they will come.

Traffic calming pilots and heat-reduction coating are some of the ways Salt Lake City is testing new urbanism strategies. - BRYANT HEATH
  • Bryant Heath
  • Traffic calming pilots and heat-reduction coating are some of the ways Salt Lake City is testing new urbanism strategies.
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Bryant Heath

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