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Salt Lake tests new intersection design with ‘pop-ups’

SHARE Salt Lake tests new intersection design with ‘pop-ups’

SALT LAKE CITY — Ahead of planned road construction, Salt Lake City is seeking the community's feedback on two "pop-up" intersection designs.

Next year, 900 South will be reconstructed between Lincoln Street (945 East) and 1300 East.

"The reason being is that the road is crumbling, sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally. … So we have the opportunity to potentially redesign the road," said Tom Millar, transportation planner for the Salt Lake City Transportation Division.

"We'd like to bring some more consistency to the road, which will also give us more space for a trail," Millar said, adding that a planned bike trail will go through that area.

From May 16-23, the city is testing out a temporary, or "pop-up," intersection design at 900 South and 1100 East. The roundabout is made up of traffic cones arranged in a circle and traffic signs to simulate what a permanent roundabout at that location could look like.

Drivers will use the temporary roundabout conventionally, with a counter-clockwise circulation, yielding to traffic from the left and to pedestrians and bicyclists.

Soon after the temporary intersection design was constructed on Wednesday, Millar observed that morning traffic seemed to be running more smoothly than usual. Instead of people stopping and then "gunning it" across the street, they were moving slowly through the roundabout. There was also less honking, he said.

From May 23-30, the city will close the western end of Gilmer Drive at 1100 East. During that time, residents will still be able to access their homes from the south and east.

Before coming up with plans for the pop-ups, the city consulted the community to see what people wanted during two open houses.

"It was a really fun process, because instead of the city just saying, 'Hey, this is what we're going to do, and if you don't like it, then we'll probably make some changes so that you do kinda like it,' … we said, 'All right, well, what are your ideas?’ And then we're testing them out," Millar said.

"And it's a really, really excellent way to diffuse potentially contentious situations."

Neighbors suggested several options, including the roundabout and closing Gilmer completely at the end to through traffic, Millar said.

The city is also considering two other options for the intersection. One is to have Gilmer Drive T into 1100 East, creating a two-stage stop for Gilmer Drive and a traditional four-way stop for the other roads.

Another is to keep the intersection the way it is. However, Millar said, the intersection is currently unpredictable for those crossing at crosswalks.

"We'd like to improve it if we can, but it's still on the table to not do anything. It really comes down to what people want, and if we can make it what they want and what data shows as the safest and the best, then that's what we're going to do," Millar explained.

Salt Lake City will select the intersection's design based on data gathered from community input and objective observation.

A video camera will also record the intersection for two days during both pop-ups. Data before, after and during the pop-ups will be gathered from a traffic counter as well.

Drivers, bikers and pedestrians who use the intersection are encouraged to take a survey about the pop-up intersections on the city's website, slcgov.com/popup. It asks which pop-up people went through, opinions and how the city could implement the design better, Millar said. People can also email their opinions to 900south@slcgov.com.

"We like to keep everybody in mind … because we have so many different people, so many different needs, that we really need to capture them all in the same place rather than just relying on word of mouth or what we hear from our neighbors, because that's not necessarily going to tell us everything that we need to know," Millar said.