Transportation ideas for next decade include more bike-share programs, trail connectivityApr 03, 2022 07:24PM ● By Bill Hardesty
South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood along with her youngest son enjoy the Jordan River Trail. Trails are part of the SSL Mobility Plan. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)
By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]
The South Salt Lake Planning Commission and the City Council approved the SSL Strategic Mobility Plan in March meetings. However, the plan was drafted in 2020 but was never approved individually or as part of the General Plan. The 113-page mobility plan is available at SSL.gov.
“This SSL Strategic Mobility Plan is a citywide plan that provides goals and strategies focused on making it easier for residents and visitors to travel to, through, and from the city. The plan guides transportation policies and investments for the next 10 years and provides a framework of catalytic projects to jumpstart mobility investments. This integrated, multimodal strategy will help the city approach mobility investments in a balanced manner that will improve the community and increase travel options,” according to plan documents.
The plan aims to guide transportation needs with roadways, bicycles, pedestrians, transit and freight networks throughout the city.
Dennis Pay, city engineer, chaired the project team. Sharen Hauri, director of neighborhoods, was a project team member with Megan Townsend (Wasatch Front Regional Council), Kordel Braley, Nick VanderKwaak, and Ximena Atterbury from AECOM Engineering.
The project team worked with various stakeholders, such as UTA and UDOT, to create the plan and the vision statement.
“Provide an integrated mobility system that is safe, accessible and inclusive for all and promotes a thriving economy, supports healthy communities and enhances the quality of life,” according to the plan documents.
State of the system
The team began their work by looking at the current state of mobility in SSL. While the demographics are a bit dated, one interesting finding is that most jobs in SSL are “clustered in a north-south corridor between I-15 on the west side and State Street on the east side. Half of the jobs in the city are manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, and construction,” according to plan documents.
The plan reports that 33,127 people travel to SSL to work, and 11,027 SSL residents leave the city for work each day. The report also says that less than 1,000 people live and work in SSL. Those who travel mostly do so using north-south routes such as I-15.
The report also found that 73% of those traveling for work drive alone—9% carpool. About 10% use public transportation, and 8% walk or work from home or use another type of transportation.
The plan organized goals and suggested policies into five sections: Safety, Access and Demand, Physical Mobility Network Enhancement, Health and Environment, and Community Focused.
In the Safety section, one of the policies is to “Formulate a Vision Zero policy to work toward lower speeds and safer bike and pedestrian facilities.” Vision Zero is like the Zero Fatalities effort. The hope is to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries by promoting safe, healthy, equitable mobility.
“Encourage efficient land use and infrastructure improvements to increase walking, biking, and transit usage” and “Encourage employment and housing density near transit stations, and transit-rich corridors” are two goals in the Access and Demand section.
One of the policies in this section is to “Improve crossings on major arterials such as State Street.” The plan suggests using more pedestrian-activated crossings such as a pedestrian hybrid beacon.
The plan created goals involving parking and curb management. Among the suggested policies is implementing paid parking. The catalyst for this is that people are more likely to drive when free parking is available thus increasing parking congestion. If they must pay, they might choose another transportation option. This could also include implementing parking meters.
Other policies are to increase the availability of dockless bike-share or scooter-share or promote carsharing programs like Zipcar and Car2go. A final policy is to “Implement Shared Mobility in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.”
The Physical Mobility and Network Enhancements section speaks to the need for larger sidewalks and, in some cases, just have sidewalks. Having protected bike and pedestrian lanes on major roads is also outlined.
Increasing trail use is a primary drive in this section. The report indicates that 65% of residents are within a quarter of a mile of a trail, but trails are not widely used because of a lack of connectivity with other trails. The goal is to “Recognize the urban trail system as a key component of the transportation network.”
The plan talks about the importance of the bus system to mobility in SSL. The plan suggests to “Improve local public transportation service throughout SSL in some of its lower density neighborhoods.” Along with more bus routes west of I-15.
In the Health and Environment section, the plan recognizes the role adequate mobility has with the environment. For example, effective mobility in the city will improve air, water, and the climate.
The final section is Community Focused. Key goals are “Improve mobility services for all residents (including people with disabilities, seniors, and limited English proficiency)” and “Implement projects equitably throughout the city.”
Affordability is also outlined with the goals of “Provide affordable mobility options for everyone” and “Reduce the share of household income spent on transportation.”
The plan ends by describing 12 catalytic projects which “include capital projects, programs, or maintenance activities that could demonstrate to the public, key stakeholder, and decision-makers how SSL’s vision can be reached and potentially generate excitement for additional projects in the city’s plan.”