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(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) City Creek’s massive underground garage has room for 5,000 vehicles, and parking is free for the first hour.
50,000 expected for opening of City Creek Center

City Creek’s garage can hold 5,000 cars.

First Published Mar 20 2012 07:27 pm • Last Updated Mar 21 2012 07:45 am

To say traffic in downtown Salt Lake City is expected to be heavy Thursday and the next few days after is putting it lightly.

City Creek Center officially opens at 10 a.m. after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9:30, and officials expect about 50,000 people to converge on downtown to explore the new mall in its first three days of operation.

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Ten to 20 extra officers will be on hand downtown Thursday through Sunday and again the following weekend, said Salt Lake City police Sgt. Shawn Josephson. They will help move traffic and respond to safety issues, Josephson said.

City Creek’s massive underground garage has room for 5,000 vehicles, and parking is free for the first hour. Parking cost for the second hour is $1, $2 for a third hour and $5 for four hours. The daily maximum is $20, and the charge for a lost ticket is $20.

In addition, Salt Lake City has revamped its downtown parking-meter system for greater simplicity, replacing coin-operated meters with digital stations that accept debit and credit cards.

For those using public transportation, TRAX stops near City Creek’s sky bridge on Main Street and near Nordstrom at South Temple and West Temple.

The Utah Transit Authority plans to maintain its regular TRAX schedule for the mall’s opening, but run longer trains than normal, UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter said.

"We will be monitoring the situation. If we need to, we can bring in more trains — and are ready to do so," he said.

He notes that four-car trains "can carry 4,000 people an hour in each direction, and we think that will be sufficient."

He said planning for the grand opening is trickier than planning for most special occasions, such as a university football game or a concert. "You don’t have a lot of people arriving or leaving at a set time. We expect higher ridership throughout the day and well into the evening," Carpenter said.

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