State Street through Salt Lake County isn't a showcase that provokes tourists to "ooh" and "ahh" at the pretty streetscape. A recent study by city's Transportation Division says State sees about 26,000 cars per day (Foothill gets 39,500, Redwood, 22,000 and 1300 East, 24,000). The street is 132 feetwide, sidewalk curb cuts are unfriendly to wheelchairs and there are few trees.
"In the past six years, there have been 1,251 injuries on State, 14 fatalities—six of which were pedestrians trying to cross the road," Salt Lake City planner Molly Robinson said during a recent Downtown Alliance meeting.
Now there's a new study afoot to give the capital city's main drag a newer, fresher, friendlier look. You can give your two cents at lifeonstate.com. Here's a great example of why change is needed:
Rusted Sun Pizzeria, just north of 2100 South, had parking spaces out front when it opened years ago. UDOT (because State Street is a state highway) came in recently and lengthened the turn lane at the 2100 South intersection and wiped out street parking. If a new business were to take over the location, it wouldn't be able to get a license because there's no parking.
We need to work together to make State better for everyone, like by utilizing sidewalks for outside dining and parklets, and for better, safer foot and bike travel. Robinson noted there are two elementary schools on each side of State and that "we tend to put in crosswalks only after a kid is killed." The study area covers 5 miles of State between South Temple and 3300 South. The area past city hall is pretty ugly, from the windowless Sears store on 800 South to numerous pawn shops and car dealerships, dive bars with minimum signage and, again, no windows, and restaurants who couldn't give a crap about using weed-eaters.
Much of this study is economy/money-driven. Look at the giant apartment complex going in at 600 S. State as a prime example of change. We're low on housing and more is going to pop up all along our main roadway in the coming years. Zoning laws are changing to allow for more folks to live among commercial properties. Apartment developers want to promote amenities to their projects as walkable and hip neighborhoods. The old Ritz-Classic bowling alley at 2265 S. State is now a new apartment project, and the developer worked with locals to preserve the giant bowling pin sign out front. That adds to the prettification of State and our city overall.