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Heavy traffic forces drive-thru lane ban in Sugar House area

Posted at 4:43 PM, Sep 06, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — As the Sugar House neighborhood continues to grow, some say the traffic congestion is getting out of hand. That’s one reason why the Salt Lake City Council voted to ban new drive-thru lanes in the business district.

“Having another location with a drive-thru would make the traffic a lot worse,” said Chuck Gray.

According to the city, the decision was made to “reduce car dependency, improve air quality, and support the local economy.”

Drive-thru lanes that already exist would not be affected by the ban.

“As a mom of three young kids who doesn’t want to take them to a restaurant and is generally in a hurry, it’s not great news,” said Morgan O’Brien.

The area along 2100 South has become notorious for traffic problems caused by drive-thrus, specifically the Chick-fil-A where customers overflow into the street just to eat more chicken.

“It was super packed. You could never get chicken on time,” said Gray. “I stopped going because the line was too long.”

The Sugar House Community Council had to meet with the restaurant, city transportation engineers, and the mayor’s office to change it to the entrance-only, exit-only parking lot it is today.

“I think you still get people pulling in entrances and exits and causing traffic,” said O’Brien.

Multiple construction projects also add to congestion issues, especially on Highland Drive with a project started back in February. Vintage store Pib’s Exchange on Ashton Avenue is surrounded on all sides by construction.

“It’s impacted us quite tremendously in both people being able to find parking as well as getting in and out of the area,” said owner Sarah Snow.

At one point, Ashton Avenue was blocked off because of construction. The barricade created a very limited window of parking space for Pib’s Exchange customers as well as state liquor store and Bruges Waffles customers.

The owners shared their complaints with the city which later opened up the avenue to help with those traffic problems.

“We noticed an increase in revenue this Saturday when they actually opened this back up to two-way," said Snow. "It was like 'Ah! There’s a light in sight,' you know?”

Highland Drive construction is expected to continue into 2024.