UTA closing Main Street SLC this May

Map of UTA’s planned free circulator bus. The red circles indicate rail replacement locations, while blue lines represent the bus’ planned route.  Image courtesy UTA.

UTA construction on Main Street in the month of May will offer a glimpse into the street’s possible future.

Cars will largely get the boot from the vicinity of Main Street and 400 South in downtown Salt Lake City. Trax riders will need to board a circulator “bus bridge” or get some steps in while walking between cut train lines.

It will offer Salt Lakers a rare – if temporary – look at what a portion of downtown looks like when closed to cars.

The intersection at 4th South and Main has given 18 years of service and it’s time for replacement, say UTA engineers.  Track further up Main, south of City Center station, also needs to be replaced.

The challenge to UTA and its customers will be significant. In order to replace the intersection at 400 South and Main, the Blue and Green Lines will be interrupted from Courthouse to City Center. The University Red Line will be cut from Library to Courthouse, necessitating a temporary train platform at 50 East 400 South (between State and Main, in the middle 400 South).

Construction work will move north on Main Street as the project progresses.

Nighttime construction will start April 15, with daytime work and car lane closures running from May 4 to June 2.

UTA says it’s working hard to minimize the project’s disruption to residents, visitors, and commuters. No businesses will be cut off from sidewalk access, UTA ambassadors will assist riders, and clear detours for thru traffic will be posted.

From an urbanist perspective, closing part of Main Street to cars presents possibilities to try new ideas for public spaces, including streets and sidewalks. Salt Lake City’s Transportation Division has recent experience in “tactical urbanism,” having tested traffic circles, bikeways, and closing streets to cars for a day (Open Streets).

Posted by Luke Garrott

Luke Garrott, PhD, has published in The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, and written features for the Salt Lake City Weekly City Guide and The West View. A former two-term councilman in Salt Lake City's District 4, he lives in Downtown Salt Lake City and grew up in the Chicago area.