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Traffic changes underway in downtown Salt Lake City

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Heads up, all you downtown commuters! We have some major road closures to tell you about.

Big changes are underway in downtown Salt Lake City, as road restrictions start to take hold in preparation for next month's Olympics. The changes may already be having an impact on your commute.

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Salt Lake City street closures/ restrictions

Salt Lake City interactive map

Utah Commuterlink Website

KSL TrafficLink Cameras

This, as some businesses worry the perception of traffic trouble will hurt their bottom line. News Specialist John Daley has details.

Navigating downtown will get more challenging by the day, as barricades and fences are going up. For thousands of commuters the official motto of the Games, rather than being "Light the Fire Within", might as well be "No Left Turn."

Twenty-four days out, you might say the unofficial color of the Olympics could well be orange. Orange construction equipment. Next to orange cones, a worker donning an orange vest. Barricades and fences are going up around venues.

There will be delays--in fact drivers heading downtown Tuesday found there already are. Many residents are bracing themselves for the worst.

What do you think traffic will be like during the Games? Iit will be a little bit New York City. They seem to be very well organized with what they're doing, for the walker. But if you're driving a car, you're gonna have a nightmare. Walkers can get around pretty good.

The first wave of Olympic road restrictions went into effect Tuesday. 400 West by the Delta Center is closed until after the Games. A one-lane perimeter is being established in all directions around the Little America, where officials with the International Olympic Committee will stay. And lane restrictions are going into place around the Salt Palace. All around downtown, street parking will be at a minimum.

"We believe we can keep traffic moving," said Tim Harpst, Salt Lake transportation director. "Will it be busy? Yes. Will there be times when it seems like gridlock? Yes."

Meantime, restaurant owners say despite traffic worries and contrary to popular perception, the Olympics will be a great time to go out to eat.

The message today - many will have plenty of tables available.

"Many are extending their hours," said Melva Sine of the Utah Restaurant Association. "Many are going to be open seven days a week. Many are even staying open 24 hours a day to accomodate visitors."

While things seem bad now, there are plenty of stories from visitors to previous Games in Sydney or Los Angeles that traffic is actually better during the Olympics than other times.

That's a message restaurant owners desperately want to get out.