Advocacy Alert: Comments needed on Salt Lake City’s Highland Drive Bike and Pedestrian Plans

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Public comment open on planned 2023 Highland Drive/1100 East project that will see greater pedestrian, bike connections throughout Sugar House

December 13, 2021 – Salt Lake City residents are invited to review draft plans for the 2023 reconstruction of Highland Drive/1100 East and provide feedback online through Dec. 30. The planned changes will see the important connector rebuilt from I-80 to Logan Ave., with special focus on improvements for pedestrians and cyclists and completing connections on the City's eastside trail systems. 

The intersection at 2100 S and Highland Drive is the heart of Sugarhouse, yet is incredibly unfriendly to pedestrians and people on bikes. The rebuild of Highland will hopefully fix this. Photo by Dave Iltis

The draft plans can be reviewed online at avnu.cc/highland and are based on years of planning documents, including the Sugar House Area Master Plan, the 2013 Sugar House Circulation Plan, and the draft Local Link Study – all of which have included robust public engagement processes. Planned improvements will allow for a wide multi-use-path for pedestrians and cyclists stretching from I-80 to Wilson Ave., widened sidewalks, bike lanes, improved drainage and more. Or, view the pdf here: https://avenueconsultants.com/video/virtual/HighlandDr/a/assets/HighlandDr_Displays_2021.pdf

“Our goal is to make Sugar House a more comfortable place for people to be,” said Salt Lake City Transportation Planner Lynn Jacobs. “We know people are coming to Sugar House for its small local businesses, great food, beautiful trees, and unique energy. This project is designed to enhance what makes the area great through making it more comfortable to get around without a car – by walking, biking, transit or even ride-sharing.”  

This desire line crosswalk on Highland Drive is an injury waiting to happen. Salt Lake City has delayed a safe crossing here for years. Photo by Dave Iltis

When complete, the project will connect a gap in the Parley’s Trail System within Salt Lake City as well as provide connections from the Parley’s and McClelland Trails to area businesses – all without reducing travel lanes. 

Over 11,000 vehicles use Highland Drive each day. Although the lanes will be reconfigured, a review of a decade worth of traffic counts shows that traffic volumes on major roadways in Sugar House have not increased at the same rate as development has occurred (traffic growth is approximately 1.5% per year on average, business growth is 9% per year). 

“The exciting thing about this project is that we are able to provide more opportunities for people to walk and ride bikes without taking away the ability of people to continue to access the Business District as they have been in the past.  We are doing this by making better use of the space we have on the roadway,” Jacobs said. 

No bike lanes were added when this development built a new road off of Highland Drive, contrary to Salt Lake City's Complete Streets Ordinance. Photo by Dave Iltis

The reconstruction project is a piece of Salt Lake City’s “Funding Our Future” bond passed by voters in 2018. Additional phases of public engagement will continue throughout the first half of 2022 with a final plan ready in Fall of 2022 and construction in 2023. 

Review and feedback are available at avnu.cc/highland and project updates are available via email subscription at [email protected].

 

Cycling Utah's initial comments:

Overall, the proposal is a good one that will make Sugarhouse more appealing to people on foot or on bike.

Bike lanes are preferred on the stretch from Logan to 2100 S. While a multi-use path is far better than the current configuration, we are skeptical of one side of the road multi-use paths. They are great because they give cyclists a place to ride off the street. But they are difficult since they mix pedestrians with cyclists, since some pedestrians will not use the sidewalk but will use the path instead. And, they don't solve well the issue of cyclists needing to cross the road. The same issue arises from 2100 S to I-80.

We are super excited to see the Parley's Trail gap closed with a new bike path in the heart of Sugarhouse. This crossing of Highland has been confusing at best.

We'd like to see a marked crosswalk and HAWK signal or something like that by Kimi's Chophouse. As the photo above shows, people cross here, even without the crosswalk. This is an injury waiting to happen.

We'd also like to see Salt Lake City actually bother to enforce their Complete Streets Ordinance, which they did not do in the new Sugarmont development just to the west of Highland Drive. This seems to be a public road, yet no bike lanes were included contrary to the ordinance. The ordinance itself is great, but Salt Lake City seems to find reasons to not follow it all the time.

All in all, we look forward to the changes, and they will certainly make Sugarhouse more people friendly.

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Having been in a major bike wreak in California, slammed into by Velo Lightning Racing Club, there really needs to be major PR on riders. The cars are bad enough, but the riders go to fast and can hit fast speeds.

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