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Sugar House Journal

Foothill Drive Open House Begins Process of Progress

May 05, 2016 16h07 ● By Bryan Scott

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

Sugar House - Being popular isn’t always a good thing. Foothill Drive is one of the most driven streets in Salt Lake City, as morning and evening cars commute through the corridor that connects I-80 and I-215 to Guardsman Way. 

The city hosted an open house on Thursday, March 31, at Hillside Middle School to hear concerns, suggestions and priorities from local residents and commuters as it attempts to improve Foothill Drive. 

“It’s a problem and we need to find solutions for it,” Robin Hutcheson, Salt Lake City transportation director, said. 

The city has partnered with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), Utah Transit Authority (UTA), University of Utah, Wasatch Front Regional Council and Salt Lake County Regional Development to discover what solutions can be implemented and, most importantly, to hear feedback from the well-over 100 residents who attended the open house. 

“Everything we hear is good; what we’re looking for is the most common themes,” Hutcheson said. 

Hutcheson said some of the themes worrying people tended towards high traffic volume. 

“For some people it means it’s affecting their ability to turn out of neighborhoods onto Foothill,” Hutcheson said. “I heard a lot of people talk to me about air quality.”

With all the destinations drivers can take Foothill Drive to get to —  the University of Utah, Hogle Zoo, Emigration Canyon and This Is The Place Heritage Park, to name a few — the long street draws congested traffic daily. 

The open house served as an opportunity for residents to write down comments on what they believe to be the most problematic and where those issues transpire along the road. 

Suggestions ranged from increasing public transportation and installing a light rail to reversible lanes for peak hours and building overpasses for crossing pedestrians. 

Andrew Langi, a student at the University of Utah, said he bikes to classes through the neighborhood to avoid the heavy congestion on Foothill Drive. 

“[Foothill Drive is] not exactly the most biker-friendly road, so it’s much safer going through the neighborhoods,” Langi said. 

Langi’s daughter attends Montessori Community School, located just off of Foothill Drive on 1700 South, so he can’t avoid it altogether. 

With many competing interests regarding the future of the project, Hutcheson said it was important to gather as much information as possible going forward.

“There’s a tremendous amount of feedback here. We’ll take all that and synthesize it and look for the most common things; then we start to tailor solutions to the problems that we find,” Hutcheson said. 

Analysis of the data and matching it to what was heard at the open house is the next step, Hutcheson said, as they continue working with the community. 

“We’ll compare where we’re hearing about the problems and where the data supports the problems and we’ll start to assemble some strategies to make it better,” Hutcheson said. 

Another workshop is set to take place this summer.

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