SALT LAKE CITY — Construction begins next month on a $20 million redesign of a major road running through downtown.
City planners envision some big changes for 200 South, making it more pedestrian, bicyclist and commuter friendly.
"It’s reached the end of its useful life," said Kyle Cook with Salt Lake City's Division of Transportation.
The redesign will accommodate more transit lines, which are increasingly utilizing 200 South.
"This is a rare opportunity to rebuild the street in a way that accommodates that level of bus transit activity, while also adding a lot of features that people come to expect in an urban modern construction project," Cook told FOX 13 News. "So good sidewalks, good pedestrian ramps, bicycling facilities, street trees and greenery, safer mid-block crossings are all components of our project."
The street redesign will include taking the outside lanes of 200 South and dedicating them to buses. Other vehicles can still use them, but will have to wait for buses.
"The outside travel lane is going to be repurposed to be transit priority. That means buses don’t have to pull to the curb. They stop in the lane," Cook said.
Bicycle lanes run alongside the transit lanes, but veer around bus islands where people board the buses. The redesign of 200 South will also get rid of a different — and somewhat controversial — style of parking. The back-in (also known as reverse angle) parking along 200 South from West Temple to 400 West will be eliminated.
The parking was installed in 2006 in an effort to be more friendly to cyclists, but has been the subject of long-running complaints. It's believed to be the only place in Salt Lake City with this type of parking.
"Horrible! Pretty frustrating because you have to back up so it felt like it was dangerous to have to stop in the middle of the road and back up in traffic," said Shayla Morrison, who backed into a stall on Thursday. "If you’re going to have parking spots here, you should be able to park normally."
Cook said the design is no longer considered "best practice." As he met with people and businesses where the reverse angle parking is, he didn't hear much objection to getting rid of it.
"We were expecting to hear more concern and what we heard is people said, 'Take it out. It’s very dangerous and we see a lot of conflicts,'" he said.
The 200 South construction project will begin next month from 200 East to 900 East. Next year, construction will begin from 200 East to 400 West. The project is being paid for through a transportation and streets bond that voters approved in 2018.