Salt Lake City seeks solutions to traffic issues on Foothill Drive

Posted at 10:24 PM, Mar 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-01 01:21:36-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City wants to fix problems on the busy Foothill Drive.

Thursday night, the city hosted an open house to hear concerns, as they come up with a plan for change.

Car after car drives the congested commute along the busy corridor every morning and evening.

"Foothill in the morning is always so busy, and at night especially during rush hour," said one driver, as she waited at a stop light in her car.

It's a huge connecting corridor, running from I-80, I-215 and Parley's Way north and west to Guardsman Way.

Drivers can take it to get to the University of Utah, Utah's Hogle Zoo, This Is the Place Heritage Park, Emigration Canyon, as well as hospitals, businesses and neighborhoods.

"A lot of people want to come to this area," said Patrick Cowley, Traffic Operations Engineer for UDOT Region 2.

The road may be a straight shot from the freeway into town, but traffic often gets in the way, and causes a headache.

"We typically come down on Wasatch just to avoid all the traffic on Foothill," said another driver.

Salt Lake City knows the street needs help.

"It's a problem in need of solutions," said Salt Lake City Transportation Director Robin Hutcheson.

That's why the city, along with UDOT, UTA, University of Utah, Wasatch Front Regional Council and Salt Lake County Regional Development are partnering to get input from residents and come up with solutions.

"It's hard to turn onto Foothill from a neighborhood street," said Katia Paz Soldan, who attended Thursday's open house to give her thoughts.

"We're driving along it sometimes and it's just not really that pretty," said her brother, Joren Paz Soldan.

Not only did residents name all the problems they have with Foothill Drive, they also got to give input on change.

Some suggested increasing public transportation, Hutcheson said, while others want to make the road more pedestrian friendly.

And, of course, a huge focus included tackling the traffic.

Cowley said they could look at, "changing traffic lights or traffic signals, increase lanes or figure out how to use them more efficiently," to help fix the problem of traffic.

He said UDOT also has another project in the works that focuses on the I-80 east offramp onto northbound Foothill Drive.

Right now, cars get stacked up trying to merge out of a tight corner.

"What we'll be able do is add an auxiliary lane for those that are coming from that ramp onto Foothill Drive," he said.

Cowley said it'll make it safer for merging cars, and won't require any major roadwork aside from re-striping and re-working the lane configurations.

He said they plan to add that lane within a year.

Cowley also said that once Salt Lake City comes up with a plan for Foothill Drive, UDOT will take a more in-depth look at that I-80 interchange with Foothill Drive and could continue to reconfigure it to make it safer.

Hutcheson said after Thursday's open house, the city will host a meeting in the summer to talk with residents about draft solutions to the problems on Foothill Drive.

She said they'd host a final meeting in the fall to lay out a plan and move forward.

Salt Lake City is taking public comments by web and phone. Click here to read more about the Foothill Drive Implementation Strategy, and give your input.