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Salt Lake City Council endorses Highland Drive road diet

Published November 13, 2013 10:49 am

Plan will reduce traffic to one lane in each direction on Highland Drive.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Coming soon to Sugar House: new apartments and condos, a new streetcar, a new plaza, and not least, a new transportation plan.

Tuesday, the Salt Lake City Council adopted the Sugar House Circulation and Streetscape Amenities Plan that seeks to coordinate pedestrian, bicycle and auto traffic.

What it includes is a road diet for Highland Drive south of 2100 South to Interstate 80. It would reduce auto traffic to one lane in each direction with a center left-turn lane. Bicycle lanes also would travel in each direction.

Councilman Charlie Luke was the lone vote against that portion of the plan. "I'm just not sold on the road diet concept," he said.

Luke was in agreement with Sugar House resident Claudia Johnson, who told the council that a reduction in automobile lanes was a bad idea.

"It's a traffic and pedestrian nightmare," she said. "You keep saying it's a walking area but everything you are doing makes it not a walking area."

And resident George Chapman told the council the Highland Drive road diet with addition of a left-turn lane would be more dangerous for pedestrians and add to the already congested boulevard. "The plan is no good," he said.

What the Sugar House circulation plan doesn't include is realigning the intersection of Sugarmont Drive (2250 South) with Wilmington Avenue at Highland Drive, as was earlier proposed. It was shot down by a 5-2 vote, with Soren Simonsen and Luke Garrott in the minority.

Simonsen argued that the realignment had been in the master plan for years and was necessary to accommodate future growth for the rest of the century. "This is a century-long decision we are making," he said. "If we don't realign it now, it will be a mistake we will have to deal with 10, 20 and 50 years from now."

But Jill Remington Love contended it was expensive and would come at the expense of the area's quirky attributes that make it unique. "This is a critical part of the plan I have a problem with," she said. "And the public isn't behind it."

The council also voted to add bicycle lanes on 2100 South east of 1300 East. But it put on hold a proposal for bike lanes between 200 East and 600 East on the east-west corridor. Between 600 East and 1300 East, the plan calls for a bike lane that parallels the Sugar House Streetcar line and travels through Hidden Hollow to Sugar House Park.

Portions of the plan approved before Tuesday include an expanded Monument Plaza at 2100 South and 1100 East. That necessitates the closure of the right-turn lane on eastbound 2100 South.

Also already adopted is the 1100 East extension of the Sugar House Streetcar from 2100 South to 1700 South. No timetable or funding mechanism has been identified for that project.

csmart@sltrib.com