The pavement over the tracks of the old Folsom Rail line may be fresh, but there’s still a lot to get done to fulfill Salt Lake City’s decadeslong vision for the west-side area.
For one, the City Creek portion that’s under Folsom may see the light of day as the city explores how to incorporate water and more gathering spaces along the North Temple-Poplar Grove route.
The project that the Redevelopment Agency and the Seven Canyons Trust have in mind is meant not only to resurface the stream but also to provide community attractions, a request that ranks high on west-sider wish lists.
“We imagine the channel will be approximately 8 feet wide surrounded by public amenities that are prioritized by the community,” said Lauren Parisi, project manager for the city’s RDA. “However, we are still in the process of completing an environmental analysis and collecting public feedback that will influence the final design.”
The city hopes to have the design plan wrapped up by next summer. Funding sources remain undetermined, but the project is included in the proposed general obligation bond that’s on this fall’s ballot. If approved, the money would help landscape and expand the trail.
For the Poplar Grove neighborhood, the trail is a new paved amenity, where bikers can ride and pedestrians can stroll — away from cars — on their way from the North Temple FrontRunner station to 1000 West.
For the city and the Seven Canyons Trust, this is just the beginning of a long-term vision. One of the big aims is that the trail extends to the Jordan River Parkway, broadening alternatives for east-west ties.
“This corridor is a really, really critical east-west connection between west-side neighborhoods and the Jordan River Trail,” said Brian Tonetti, executive director of the Seven Canyons Trust, emphasizing that Folsom would give access — by foot and by transit — to a 45-mile system stretching from Ogden to Provo. “In addition to that, I think the City Creek channel brings an amenity, unlike really anything that we have in Salt Lake City, in that neighborhood.”
This project, Tonetti said, is also a critical component of the Seven Greenways 100-year plan, which intends to uncover and restore the seven major tributaries to the Jordan River. It was under this regional plan that Three Creeks Confluence Park opened last year in the Glendale neighborhood.
The completion of the Folsom project is a few years in the future, but the community can get involved in its shaping now by answering how this area could transform into the walkable, and safe community space touted in a 1992 plan.
A city survey is asking residents about various amenities, including a boardwalk, pavilion, workout stations, traditional play spaces, a dog park, a plaza and splash pad.
This is poised to be a big change from the abandoned rail corridor that dominated the area until June 2022, when the city finished the paved Folsom Trail construction. It could also be part of a series of incoming spaces that enhance the quality of life on the west side.
For Esther Stowell, head of the Poplar Grove Community Council, completion of the Folsom Trail would bring a necessary path to the west side’s hidden natural beauties that too often are missed by the rest of the city. She said it also represents progress toward those long-desired east-west connections.
“A trail such as this will provide access to those residents who are willing to venture over to enjoy the Jordan River Trail, the Fife bird preserve [near Jordan Park], or our bike and skate park,” Stowell said, “all the hidden gems that are often overlooked by the stigmatized lens that are used to view the west side.”
Alixel Cabrera is a Report for America corps member and writes about the status of communities on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.