A Transportation and Mobility Blueprint For A Great American City
Every Great American City plays to its strengths. We are the crossroads of the West for air, train, and vehicles. Salt Lake City is the center of the regional rail network; six transit lines converge here. We are the beneficiaries of practical pioneers whose legacy of wide streets provides a canvas for innovative design. Our tidy grid system and square blocks are navigable for everyone. Playing to our strengths, we can continue to improve what we have today, as well as expanding our transportation options. Cleaner air, a reduced carbon footprint, access to jobs and daily needs, and a bright economic future are all achievable with a great transportation system built on the principles of choice. Transportation should be accessible and affordable for everyone, and it should provide a means for families to improve their economic conditions.
For the first time in four decades, car trips have declined nationally, and that is also true of Salt Lake City. Two key generations, the Millennials and the Active Boomers, are making notable shifts in travel choices. More and more people choose not to drive as their primary mode of transportation. Our ability to meet these changing demands will enhance our competitive edge as a city to attract and retain talent, business, and culture. Importantly for transportation, providing the choice to travel by foot, bike, or transit will preserve the driving conditions for those who need or choose to drive. A community that provides transportation choices is a community with a more sustainable environment, an attractive place to live and work, and a better travel experience.
Mayor Becker’s commitment to transportation choice has resulted in many accomplishments, highlighted in numerous improvements to our system:
- Reimagining North Temple Boulevard, and opening TRAX to the Airport: Working closely with neighborhood groups and local businesses, Mayor Becker’s Administration completely redesigned North Temple Boulevard to include a vital TRAX connection between downtown and the Airport. We slowed traffic, improved the sidewalks, added extensive landscaping, and created a place for bicyclists to safely ride. The extension of the TRAX to the airport has been a major success with visitors and residents. The Airport Line serves 13 stations in Salt Lake City.
- Reconstructing the 1300 South viaduct ahead of schedule and on budget: Salt Lake City is challenged by numerous barriers that divide our east and west side neighborhoods, such as I-15 and regional rail. The 1300 South viaduct is an important bridge connection for freight delivery, neighborhood access, and access to I-15. The bridge was originally constructed in the 1970s and it desperately needed repair. The completed project preserves the wider lanes needed for the high percentage of freight delivery, includes better bicycling facilities, and greatly improves the pedestrian experience. Despite the complexity, the bridge was completed ahead of schedule and on budget.
- Building the S-Line and Greenway: Adopted City plans called for a rail connection to Sugar House. By working with local residents, the Becker Administration built a streetcar compatible with the unique character of the area. The S-Line is surrounded by acres of added park space. It includes community plazas at each block, and incorporates an important segment of the regional Parley’s Trail. The public investment has leveraged extensive private development to create a thriving and exciting neighborhood.
- Creating the Hive Pass for residents: Mayor Becker worked with the Utah Transit Authority to create the Hive Pass, an exclusive program for Salt Lake City residents that offers a 50% discount on TRAX, bus service, and the S-Line. The pass makes transit more affordable and accessible, and even deeper discounts are offered to our low income residents who qualify under existing social service programs. This program is the first of its kind in the United States, and is a great example of UTA and Salt Lake City partner on projects to benefit City residents. Data collected from the initial pilot program showed that Hive Pass riders used transit significantly more often, reducing car trips. The Hive Pass contributed to better air, too, with a net reduction of over 22,000 pounds of criteria air pollutants, and 90,000 gallons of gasoline saved.
- Rebuilding the North Temple viaduct: Mayor Becker listened to and honored neighborhood desires to transform an inaccessible thoroughfare with little room for foot traffic into a safe, multimodal transportation corridor. The shortened and redesigned viaduct provides easier access from downtown to the west side and includes improvements to the roadway, new pedestrian walkways, better bike lanes, new security lighting, and a heavily used transit transfer station atop the bridge. The multimodal viaduct has spurred significant residential development nearby, with more to come.
- Launching GREENBike, Salt Lake City’s bike share program: Launched by Mayor Becker in 2013, GREENBike has expanded each year, and now offers 20 stations in downtown. Additional stations are planned for 2016, and the commitment from private sponsors, in addition to City support, will ensure a continued expansion. GREENBikes have directly improved individual health, our air quality, and boosted the use of transit.
- Doubling down on pedestrian safety and accessibility: Wide streets and sometimes fast speeds make Utah a challenging place for pedestrians. In 2014, Mayor Becker launched an effort to streamline our data collection and analysis on all types of conflicts and crashes on our roadways. The result is a focused approach to improving conditions for pedestrians, including the installation of 3 new full signals, 8 new HAWK signals, 15 new pedestrian flashing signs, and new ADA ramps.
- Expanding opportunities for safe and comfortable biking: With modest investment, the Becker Administration has nearly doubled the number of bike lanes; 10% of all City streets now include bike lanes. Bike lanes are typically installed in conjunction with street maintenance activities, which drastically reduces cost while quickly improving conditions for the growing number of bicyclists. Bike lane installations have been carefully balanced on numerous corridors to improve safety and comfort while not negatively affecting present and future car capacity.
- Taking care of businesses and residents. Each year, the Becker Administration responded to more than 300 neighborhood and business requests for analysis and improvement, resulting in hundreds of improvements a year to our streets, from filling potholes, placing signs, and tracking speeds, to fixing parking meters, and issuing neighborhood parking permits. Mayor Becker introduced a new smartphone app that makes it easier to report maintenance needs.
Mayor Becker’s Transportation and Mobility Blueprint
- Complete the First Citywide Transit Master Plan. Mayor Becker’s Administration have been hard at work to complete a transit master plan specific to Salt Lake City and our needs. Mayor Becker will aggressively implement this plan, which will expand bus service to neighborhoods, extend hours of service, and identify amenities that will attract people to transit. We will also update our previously adopted Citywide Transportation Master Plan to reflect the renewed values for transit, and to incorporate new information from the City’s Plan Salt Lake and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan Update.
- Build the Downtown Streetcar. Downtown is truly the heart of Salt Lake City, and as befits the heart, we need to ensure that circulation downtown is accessible, low-stress, and sustainable. Streetcars serve a dual and complementary purpose of moving people and catalyzing development. Mayor Becker believes a downtown streetcar will create a rail circulator system, better connect the high demand corridor between downtown and the University of Utah, and bring more transportation options to our neighborhoods. Offering fixed rail transit will bring additional development to support more walkable communities and provide needed capacity for transportation without increasing congestion in the busiest part of our City.
- Connect the east and west with an extended 9 Line. Over four miles long, the 800/900 South corridor connects the Hogle Zoo, Sunnyside Park, 9th and 9th (east), Liberty Park, Central 9th, 9th and 9th (west), the Jordan River Parkway, and the Surplus Canal. By re-designing this corridor for all modes of transportation, Mayor Becker will strengthen access to transit, local businesses, and recreational opportunities for many of our neighborhoods.
- Fund a west side circulator. TRAX is a great way to get around, but it is often just out of reach for many residents. Making that “last mile” connection is critical. Mayor Becker’s team will identify ways to fund a west side circulator – a bus or streetcar line – along 900 West and 1300 South that will connect to TRAX at and North Temple. This line will facilitate ridership and provide easy access for residents to get downtown and throughout Salt Lake City.
- Improve traffic signal timing. Mayor Becker’s Administration will continue to work with the State of Utah and regional partners to implement completely revamped software for signal synchronization that will help to proactively prepare updates to timing plans, and will ultimately reduce idling and improve the public’s experience of using our streets.
- Redesign iconic transportation corridors and gateways to the City. Foothill Drive, State Street, 500 South and 600 South are all important entrances to our City. Mayor Becker’s Administration has worked hard to improve our partnership with UDOT, and only in partnership we will transform these corridors into welcoming and accessible gateways. Doing so will ensure efficiency for auto traffic and mass transit to serve our most populous job centers while adding opportunity and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. Innovative design will result in an aesthetic and functional connection to the businesses that line these corridors.
- Grow the urban trail network throughout the City. Mayor Becker proposes to aggressively pursue the construction of an urban trail network within the fabric of our City, with opportunities for walking, bicycling, recreation, transportation, and neighborhood enhancement. Urban trails are places for people to gather as much as they are places for travel. The 9-Line, the Folsom Trail (connecting between the Jordan River Parkway and City Creek Canyon), and the McClelland Trail, which will be under construction in spring of 2016, will link to one another for miles of comfortable and protected travel for walking and biking.
- Connect our east and west neighborhoods. Mayor Becker proposes a comprehensive approach to improving the connection between neighborhoods with better transportation facilities. Union Pacific trains often cause delay and frustration for people trying to move fluidly between east and west neighborhoods. Mayor Becker is committed to identifying key improvements needed at 400 North, 200 South, and 900 South, to implementing separate pathways to avoid delay, and to improving safety at crossings.