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Salt Lake City taking next steps toward bike lanes, safer sidewalks in $19M revamp of 300 West

The changes come as more apartment buildings, microbreweries, stores and restaurants have cropped up in the area south of the city’s downtown core

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A man walks on a section of 300 West that doesn’t have a sidewalk in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Salt Lake City will reconstruct 300 West from 900 South to 2100 South. Improvements include replacing pavement, improving sidewalks, and adding new bike lanes and midblock crosswalks.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Elizabeth Parker’s midday ritual takes her down cracked, narrow sidewalks lining busy streets in an industrial part of Salt Lake City.

Not the most serene surroundings, but Parker, a 33-year-old receptionist at an auto shop, said she much prefers the 3-mile loop to an hour in the break room.

While a Salt Lake City construction project to revamp a 1.7-mile stretch of 300 West may initially cause headaches for her employer, Intermountain Electric, Parker said she’s cheering the plan that’s moving forward with pedestrians like her in mind.

“As a walker, somebody that walks every single day, it does make me a little excited,” Parker said Wednesday afternoon.

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Elizabeth Parker walks along a narrow section of sidewalk on 300 West in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. Salt Lake City will reconstruct 300 West from 900 South to 2100 South. Improvements include replacing pavement, improving sidewalks, and adding new bike lanes and midblock crosswalks.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Earlier in the day, city officials said they’re aiming to improve the road not just for walkers like Parker, but also for those on bikes, in wheelchairs, or commuting by car and bus, as well as delivery trucks heading to big-box stores and other businesses.

The changes come alongside a transformation of the area south of the city’s downtown core as it introduces more apartment buildings, microbreweries, restaurants and stores.

Construction is set to begin in April or May, spanning from 900 South to 2100 South, and is expected to continue late into 2022.

“We’re transforming our streets,” city engagement specialist Adan Carrillo said at an online announcement previewing the changes. He said the revamp will help make the city more welcoming and more efficient.

The city will introduce a two-way bike lane on the west side of the street, separated from the roadway by a strip of plants and trees. It will eventually extend another six blocks north.

The changes will also fix problems like driveways that require backing out onto the busy street, and will fill in 1,700 feet of missing sidewalks, said Salt Lake City transportation planner Will Becker.

“The project is focused on more than just replacing underground utilities and rebuilding and repaving the deteriorated street surface,” Becker said. “The goal is also to bring the street into a modern era and transform it into an accessible and inviting street for people of all ages and abilities.”

Becker and his colleagues plan to widen sidewalks to 6 feet and install midblock crosswalks, in addition to those currently at each intersection. In turn, the road will retain four lanes and a turning lane, but will narrow by 25 feet, for a width of 56 feet, allowing people to cross in less time.

The estimated price tag for the project is about $19 million, city engineer Matthew Cassel told the Deseret News. Most of the funding — $17.3 million — comes from a bond approved by voters in 2018, but the city is also planning to draw from a pool of fees collected from property developers and another reserved for public utilities.

Cassel said the city plans to put out a request for proposals from contractors next week.