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Traffic is everyone’s problem

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Customarily, this page is not in the business of prognostication, but we'll venture that anyone who travels in the vicinity of a 2002 Winter Games venue beginning Feb. 9 will encounter an unprecedented amount of traffic. But then, that's like predicting the sun will rise tomorrow. Utahns and visitors alike are just going to have to cope with the onslaught as roadways such as I-80 fill to capacity.

That said, there are several ways to mitigate the impacts. Utahns should take public transportation or carpool and arrange work schedule to avoid peak travel periods. They should plan to leave downtown Salt Lake no later than 3 p.m. Travel should be scheduled around Games event schedules, workers should telecommute or, if possible, stay home.

At the very least, Utahns should avail themselves of the various guides, interactive tools and media campaigns designed to help drivers cope with Olympic traffic and avoid obvious bottlenecks. As transportation organizers caution: Know before you go.

Another certainty is there will be no wiggle room for people who make a late start for their respective Games destinations. Considering congested roads, parking, shuttle rides, walking and security checkpoints, reaching one's seat at a venue could take four hours from the time one leaves home. Add a nasty snowstorm to the mix and the journey will be substantially longer.

We strongly encourage people with event tickets to take free public transit when it's available. If they insist on driving, they should carpool and be patient. Another option is the Mountain Venue Express, a service that requires a 24-hour advance reservation and costs $20.

Whether attending the Games or trying to avoid the crush around the venues, people should regularly check www.utahcommuterlink.com or phone 511.

Most importantly, Utahns and Games visitors need to arm themselves with a sense of humor. There will be some inconveniences, but there should be some solace in knowing that many others will share the plight. Utahns in particular should try to be courteous and keep in mind that many people sharing Utah roadways will be visitors who are unfamiliar with the landscape.

This page is confident that if Utahns avail themselves to good information and act accordingly, the Beehive State can do a smashing job of hosting the Winter Games. This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and Utahns would do well to make the most of it.