(Salt Lake City) Light Rail Success Surprises Salt Lake
Salt Lake City is using light rail as a catalyst to revitalize its downtown. Much like
Portland's MAX, Salt Lake City's TRAX system, which has achieved an impressive daily
ridership of nearly 20,000 since it opened last December, has spawned transit-oriented
development projects all around the city. Nowhere is this smart-growth approach more
evident than with the Main Street revitalization project.
If You Build It, They Will Come: Salt Lake City's new light-rail
system has been a surprise success. Plans are now in the works to expand it.
On Main Street, old buildings are being transformed to house new businesses. A
parking lot is now a community center with an ice skating rink, amphitheater for concerts,
and space for events and celebrations. Residents and visitors can enjoy
pedestrian-friendly streets with attractive sidewalks, plants and street clocks. The
area's central location next to the TRAX line gives residents more transportation choices.
Main Street's successful revitalization will probably spark similar efforts in other
parts of Salt Lake City and surrounding suburbs, as TRAX moves further out from the
downtown. In fact, the success of TRAX has inspired the Salt Lake valley to request
additional segments of light rail. The first additional segment to the University of Utah
has just begun and will be completed by the 2002 Winter Olympics. Other segments to
Draper, West Jordan, West Valley City and the Salt Lake City airport have recently been
added to the Utah Transit Authority's long-range plan.
Salt Lake City residents who once thought light rail would be a boondoggle are clearly
warming to the idea. In fact, according to transit surveys, of the nearly 20,000 daily
riders, more than 41 percent are new to public transportation.
Development (Herriman) Highway Rumors Spur Sprawl
Residents of the town of Herriman enjoy a small-town lifestyle
surrounded by Utah's beautiful open spaces. Horses graze in the area's pastures and
hillsides are filled with winter-ranging deer.
But if a local developer has his way, this idyllic lifestyle will come to a screeching
halt. The Rosecrest development, which spans 2,200 acres and encompasses 2,400 houses and
upscale condominiums, will likely hold 7,000 people by 2010 -- increasing the size of the
This project is just a small part of the sprawling growth that the proposed 125-mile
Legacy Highway is already creating. The highway would cut a swath across some of the last
remaining open spaces of the Wasatch Front and has irresponsible developers licking their
While the project will preserve some open space and include some commercial
development, the scale is such that, if it goes forward, Herriman will become another
small-town casualty of sprawl. In fact, if current trends continue, the town will spread
out to include more than 14,000 new residents by 2030, making it one of the
fastest-growing communities in Salt Lake County. And, as with many cities, Salt Lake City
and its inner suburbs are thirsting for the type of development that will be wreaking
havoc on Herriman.
As one county official put it: "It does show one of the drawbacks of not having