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With the idea of a North Temple freeway ramp long-since shattered by loud public protests, the Utah Department of Transportation is looking for other ways to guide burgeoning traffic into Salt Lake City's downtown.

But officials are finding that freeways and protests go hand-in-hand.So far, consultants hired by the state have gone through six plans. The latest proposal would place ramps on 200 South and 400 South to disperse traffic that now squeezes into the city on 600 South and out on 500 South.

That plan may be short-lived. People who live along 200 South and 300 South - streets that are primarily residential - are not amused.

"They may be taking care of traffic, but they are creating a bigger problem," said Nancy Saxton, a resident who is chairwoman of the East Central Community Council, a neighborhood group that advises City Hall.

Saxton said such a ramp would increase traffic and ruin residential areas. She is one of several residents who think 200 South is a bad place for a freeway ramp. Their objections are similar to those raised by residents of lower Avenues neighborhoods and the LDS Church in recent years against a ramp on North Temple.

Transportation officials say they merely are trying to find ways to meet federal traffic guidelines and to handle auto traffic that is expected to increase by 20 percent to 50 percent by 2015.

They are convinced that solutions to the city's downtown traffic problems won't come easy. No matter where a ramp goes, people somewhere down the line will complain about an increase in traffic.

"Transportation is certainly not an exact science," said Larry Becknell, area manager for Parsons, Brinkerhoff, Quade & Douglas Inc., the consulting firm hired by the state to study the problem. "Any time you do one thing, you affect another. There are always tradeoffs."

The consultants like the most recent proposal because it spreads traffic and provides several ways of getting into and out of the city. The plan would make 200 South the gateway to I-15 for all traffic to and from areas north of the city. Traffic to and from the south would use the current 500 South and 600 South ramps, while drivers from I-80 and people who ride with one or more passengers would use 400 South.

"The idea is to give preferential treatment to motorists who drive with two or more people," Beck-nell said. The more motorists double up, the less officials have to worry about pollution and traffic. Such cars would be allowed to use special lanes on the freeway, as would buses.

The plan has been passed among community groups and city boards. But because of opposition from residents, a seventh alternative is in the works.

"That would be to have no traffic on 200 South and to put a lot more traffic on 400 South," Beck-nell said.

Becknell said he is glad to learn about the opposition now, rather than after the final decision is made.

"The idea is to go to the community groups and flesh out the problems now," he said. "The process is meant to come up with alternatives."

The consultants may not present the state with a final recommendation until February. By then, downtown factions may decide North Temple wasn't such a bad location for a ramp, after all.

"There were enough people very concerned about solely using North Temple that the political reaction was to not spend any money on it," said Tim Harpst, the city's transportation director. "It might turn out that there is enough of a political groundswell from people along these other streets to open all the streets to consideration again."