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Spotlight hits S.L. Valley

National planners come to view, discuss growth management

When it comes to managing the growth of cities, most planners look to Portland as an example to follow.

This weekend, however, cities in the Salt Lake Valley will be in the spotlight. Beginning today, the nation's planners, business leaders and transit officials will be in Utah to view developments along the Wasatch Front and discuss new ways to manage growth.

They will be here for a national conference called Rail-Volution — a gathering that focuses on transit, and how to integrate community building around transit hubs.

"We have assembled sort of the premier conference that helps people understand how rail transit and urban design fit together to make communities work better, to make them more livable," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, one of Rail-Volution's founders.

Over the next three days, attendees will tour sites along the Wasatch Front. Daybreak in South Jordan will be on display, also downtown Salt Lake City, the University of Utah and Layton. All of these sites have examples of development that has been integrated with rail transit, something known as "transit- oriented development."

Utah officials are excited about the national attention.

In terms of planning, the conference will show that Salt Lake City is "progressive" and "ahead of the curve" when compared to cities of a similar size, said Keith Bartholomew, an assistant professor in the College of Architecture + Planning at the University of Utah.

"We are actually doing some very innovative things," said Bartholomew, also a member of the Utah Transit Authority's Board of Trustees. "People from outside the region will be able to get an understanding that Salt Lake City isn't the backwater that I think it's perceived to be."

As the nation's population grows, Blumenauer says it's becoming more important for planners to attend conferences like Rail-Volution and embrace new ideas about planning. Transit will become an increasingly critical component of planning, he said.

"We tried for 25 years to pave our way out of congestion and community after community after community found that it doesn't work," he said. "You shouldn't have to burn a gallon of gas to buy a gallon of milk," he said.

For more information about Rail-Volution, log on to Meetings will begin today at 8 a.m. and will end Saturday at 5 p.m.

Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, is the conference's keynote speaker.

Conference highlights


Tour of downtown Salt Lake City

Symposium on "new urbanism" planning

Tour of Daybreak development in South Jordan

Transit-oriented development workshop

Symposium on the high costs of free parking


Tour of downtown Salt Lake City

Tour of Layton and plans for commuter rail

Tour of Salt Lake City's west side


Tour of developments along the Jordan River


Trade shop

Closing plenary