SALT LAKE CITY — 7200 West runs by Salt Lake City's westernmost boundary, far from its residential core but close to its growing industrial northwest quadrant, a city section filled with massive warehouses and data centers.

While not heavily used — compared to other streets in the city — it's at the center of an ongoing illegal dumping problem. More than 250 tons of "bulky" and "hazardous" waste has been removed from the area over the past few years, according to Salt Lake transportation and public services officials.

The situation has gotten bad enough they're now asking the Salt Lake City Council to approve a two-year measure that would shut down a portion of the road, to "further deter illegal dumping, potential hazard, and reduce (the) impact of costly cleanup." If approved, the closure would exist from I-80 to California Avenue (1300 South), considered to be the road's most problematic section.

The closure could last through March 2026.

"It's not long-term; it's just trying to help get the situation under control," Salt Lake City transportation director Jon Larsen told Monday. "I think it's a unique situation."

City Council members are slated to receive a presentation about the proposal during a meeting on Tuesday before they slate a public hearing. They're expected to vote on the measure next week.

Most people won't be impacted by the closure, Larsen says. Most of the road section — located within Salt Lake City's southwest boundary near Magna — has no asphalt, concrete, curbs and gutters. It's primarily used by Union Pacific and Rio Tinto crews to access key work areas for both companies. It's also close to Waste Management's Mountain View Landfill.

The road is expected to be paved eventually and become an important industrial corridor based on the region's growth, but that's still at least a few years away.

Junk is piled on the side of the road along 7200 West on Monday. Salt Lake City is considering a road closure of 7200 West from I-80 to California Avenue that could last into 2026 because illegal dumping and other issues in and around the area. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Instead, 7200 West has become more of a city burden than anything else, over the past few years. Salt Lake firefighters have had to close the road section before, because of standing ice and water; however, illegal dumping is the road's more recent — and ongoing — problem.

"The area experiences frequent illegal dumping of bulky, hazardous and large amounts of waste due to the remote location and proximity to permitted solid waste management facilities," Salt Lake City Public Services Director Jorge Chamorro wrote in a document to the City Council dated March 12.

Chamorro said the city has received "multiple complaints" about it in the past year. The city conducted an initial cleanup in February 2023, when crews removed over 250 tons of waste, including 15 mattresses and 3.6 tons of tires.

A contractor hired by the city found the waste had started to accumulate again during a subsequent cleanup in December. The two cleanups cost the city about $65,000.

Even the road's biggest users are fed up. Jose Flores, Waste Management's district manager for the area, wrote in a letter to the city that fires have been started near the road and the company has experienced "occasional trespassing and theft of vehicle fuel, catalytic converters and vehicle batteries."

After some deliberation, city public services and transportation officials decided a temporary road closure might be the best solution to handle the problem now. Larsen explained it's a "very rare" move the city can make through a state law that allows it and municipalities to close roads until "unsafe conditions" are mitigated — or for up to two years.

Salt Lake City implemented a somewhat similar closure in 2017, closing off a segment of Rio Grande Street amid the state, county and city's "Operation Rio Grande" to handle drug and crime problems in and around the state's homeless shelters. In this case, the closure would be to try and deter people who likely utilize the area's remoteness to dump unwanted materials.

"We don't take it lightly, the idea of closing a street, which is why we almost never do it," Larsen said.

Under the proposed plan, the city would install some sort of physical barrier and swing arm gate at each closure point. Each gate would have a Knox Box set up so firefighters can have access to the road in case of any emergency.

Union Pacific, Rio Tinto and waste management employees would still have access as well, according to Chamorro. Representatives for all three companies wrote letters in recent weeks to support the proposed closure.

The closure could begin next month. The City Council is set to vote on Tuesday to approve a public hearing on the proposal, which is tentatively scheduled for April 2. It may vote on the measure as early as April 9, before the closure can be put in place.