February 1, 2017 – Foothill Drive in Salt Lake City is undergoing a major corridor study to reconsider how the roadway will be used in the future. There is an open house scheduled for February 2, 2017 from 5-7 pm at Hillside Middle School, Hillside Middle School 1825 S Nevada Street (2330 East) Salt Lake City, Utah, 84108. The open house will allow cyclists and citizens to comment on the ‘preferred' scenario.
This will be the second open house in the planning process. In the first open house, 6 scenarios were considered; two of which were bike friendly, and four of which ranged from very bike unfriendly and recommended the status quo to mediocre. The preferred scenario will be an amalgam of the 6 initial scenarios, and was formed by taking into consideration comments received in the previous open house and comment period.
Currently, the roadway is not at all bicycle friendly, and while there are options to travel north-south in the area, they are several blocks out of the way, and not particularly convenient for cyclists. As of 2007, daily traffic average about 45,000 vehicles. While Cycling Utah does not know of any data on counts of cyclists, in our observation, few cyclists use the roadway, some use the sidewalk. This is generally between the VA Hospital and 2100 E. and about 1000 S. The study area runs from Guardsman Way (about 1500 E) to the I-80/Foothill Interchange.
From the project website, the planning process is described as, “The Foothill Drive Implementation Strategy is a partnership among Salt Lake City, the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake County, University of Utah, and Wasatch Front Regional Council to identify short term and long term strategies to address issues along the Foothill corridor such as traffic congestion, neighborhood connections, safety, and transportation options.”
- Basic bicycle: Improvements to 2100 E/2300 E and to Wasatch Drive. And a bike path through Bonneville Golf Course. This option would include no bike improvements on Foothill Drive itself.
- Enhanced bicycle: A buffered bike lane or shared use bike path on Foothill Drive.
- Major Bicycle: Shared use path on Foothill Drive; raised bike lane on Foothill Drive; Bicycle conflict markings at intersections; Grade separated street crossings.
Following the first open house, survey responses showed that 40.1% of respondents preferred the Basic Bicycle treatment, 30.7% the Enhanced, and 29.2% the Major Bicycle Treatment.
Cyclists are encouraged to attend the open house to comment, or to email comments after the open house concludes. Information on the preferred scenario and how to comment should be on the http://www.foothilldrive.org/ website shortly.
Foothill Drive is currently an awful place to ride a bike. Yet, with destinations such as Foothill Plaza, many housing complexes, churches, the VA Hospital, and the University of Utah, it should be bicycle friendly.
Some simple solutions to achieve this would include narrower lane widths, lower traffic speeds (neither of which tend to reduce traffic throughput), and more transit. Will this study finally lead to a better Foothill? We are not holding our breath. A previous study in 2008 recommended better transit, and essentially the ‘Basic Bicycle' treatment described above (which is inadequate, and was only partially implemented. When Foothill was repaved a few years ago, no changes occurred, despite the conclusion of the study. UDOT apparently had no interest in improving the corridor. Hopefully this has changed, and this study will not be an exercise in futility.
For cycling to be safer or even possible, cyclists need to comment on the plan. We don't yet know what the preferred scenario is. When we do, we will try to post our comments here.