UTA to build new fence separating Gateway Mall from nearby homeless shelter

Posted at 5:30 PM, Mar 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-17 19:30:46-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- It's a new gate for the new Gateway.

Matthew Rojas, Director of Communications for the Salt Lake City Mayor's Office, described the new fence that will separate the homeless shelter and the mall on 200 South between 400 and 500 West.

"It's going to be a five foot chain-link fence kind of wrapped in vinyl," Rojas said.

UTA will be building it and paying for it, after a joint investigation with the city found several safety concerns.

"It's a very heavy bus corridor along with the TRAX train, and it just made sense from a safety perspective to go ahead and put up that fence," Rojas said.

The initial concern was brought by Vestar, the new owners of the Gateway Mall. In a statement to Fox 13, they said in part, 'When Vestar took over The Gateway last spring, we assessed the safety and security needs of the property and were concerned about the dangerous conditions at the 200 South intersection."

Despite the crosswalk in the middle of 200 South, it's very common to see people jaywalking.

"Bus drivers have described near misses," Rojas said. "TRAX people have described near misses. There thankfully has never been a serious accident, but we just want to stay a little more proactive."

Right now if you want to cross 200 South safely, you can use the crosswalk, but once this plan goes into place, the crosswalk will be removed and you will need to walk to 400 West or 500 West to cross 200 South safely.

Kaylah Davison, who lives at the homeless shelter, doesn't believe the motivation is just about safety.

"I honestly believe the only reason why they're putting this up is to keep them out," Davison said.

Catholic Community Services of Utah, which provides homeless services in the area, sent a statement to Fox 13 that says in part: "We are concerned the fence will instead provide a barrier between the general public and our most vulnerable residents. Such barriers do not usually serve a safety purpose, but instead are used to separate different populations."

"It's really not going to change anything," Davison said. "You're still going to have people coming from the shelter going there still."

However, Lorraine Dakan-Gilbert, who lives nearby, says she's constantly seeing people jaywalk and is happy to see a barrier that will force people to consider safer options.

"It's about time," Dakan-Gilbert said.

The fence, which will cost UTA an estimated $42,000, is similar to other barriers you see near City Walk, the library, and the University of Utah.

"They all look different but they serve a purpose of trying to prevent people crossing over train tracks, which is quite dangerous," Rojas said.

Construction on the new fence will begin in the next few months.