Skip to main content

The City Journals

Residents provide input to improve life on State Street

Feb 27, 2017 03:56PM ● By Kelly Cannon

Residents read and vote on the different goals of the Life on State Street project during a public interactive workshop. (Kelly Cannon/City Journals)

By Kelly Cannon | [email protected]
Nearly 200 residents participated in an interactive workshop to help solve the problems plaguing State Street. Held Feb. 9 at Salt Lake Community College, Life on State Street provided a platform for people who live and/or work on State Street from North Temple to 3300 South to voice their concerns and opinions on what should be done on that section of the street.
“We want to make major changes to State Street as the heart of our urban neighborhood in both Salt Lake and South Salt Lake,” said Sharen Hauri, the urban design director for South Salt Lake. “We believe that if we make changes to the road itself, it will be a big improvement by making things friendlier for bikers, walkers, adding things like street trees and lighting, local businesses succeed with facade improvements and parking, we’re looking at anything that we can do and doing whatever it takes to make those transformations.”
The initial idea for the project was developed in 2010 for the entirety of State Street, starting at the capitol and ending in Draper. The effort is a joint project between Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake, the Wasatch Regional Council, Salt Lake County, the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Transit Authority. The goal of the Life on State Street workshop was to get into the next level of detail.
“Ultimately with this project, we’ll be identifying three demonstration sites with detailed design drawings of what should happen to the roadway and ultimately getting some cost estimates and seeking funding for hopefully implementing those demonstration projects, with the ultimate idea that we can grow it for the length of State Street,” said Molly Robinson, the urban designer in the planning division for Salt Lake City.
The three demonstration sites and their locations have yet to be determined and will be developed after gathering the input provided by residents.
The section of State Street from North Temple to 3300 South was selected because Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake have very similar issues.
“We’re both urbanizing and adding a lot right now in housing and business and jobs. They’re very similar as we have transit with TRAX and bus lines and major businesses and institutions,” Hauri said. “We chose a section that was very similar in what happens there and the trends with who lives there and what they do. It’s very similar neighborhood. And it’s all relatively blighted.”
Robinson said the idea is to figure out what is an ideal model for an urban arterial in Utah that is unique and can serve as a model for the whole state.
“This project is looking at both the roadway itself, what’s happening between property lines, can we improve the pedestrian experience, how do we do that, how do we improve the visual and aesthetic experience for everyone moving along State Street, those crossing State Street, and what is happening on the private property side,” Robinson said.
There are seven goals to Life on State Street: improve safety and security, improve identity of place, expand connectivity, optimize mobility, drive economic prosperity, support equitable living opportunities and encourage healthy and sustainable design. After participants registered and walked into the work shop, they were given small stickers to place on panels next to the goal they believed was their largest priority. Most of the stickers were placed next to improve safety and security, improve identity of place and encourage healthy and sustainable design.  
Robinson agreed there are a lot of safety and security issues along this particular section of State Street.
“We’ve talked to members of the public about this already. There’s criminal activity. There’s vehicular crashes and other issues in terms of crossing and safety for cyclist and pedestrians,” Robinson said. “Transit is a big challenge on State Street. How can State Street become a couplet to the TRAX system? That’s something that we’ll be looking at.”
The workshop itself was divided into two parts. The first hour was dedicated to having participants provide feedback on priorities and experiences on State Street by using an individual electronic voting device. The questions were presented by Alex Joyce, a consultant with Fregonese Associates hired to help with the workshops. Questions delved deeper into the goals of the workshop, asking participants what was their top priority when it came to mobility or identity.
In between the first and second half of the workshops, South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood thanked residents for coming out to give their opinion and provide feedback on State Street.
“Seven years ago when I ran for mayor, I ran on ‘Safe, Clean and Beautiful City,’” Wood said. “I’m super excited because we’re going to work together to make State Street a safe, clean and beautiful State Street. Thanks for participating tonight.”
The second part of the workshop had participants gather around tables that had one of two projects on it. The first project had a print out of an aerial view of the section of State Street in question. Using markers, stickers and notecards, participants identified areas of State Street they felt were of concern, areas they felt could be better utilized and sections they felt already demonstrated an ideal part of the street.
The second project had print outs that symbolized a cross section of a street. Using cut-outs of cars, trees, bicycles, dividers, etc. participants glued the cut outs to the page in order to design what they felt would be an ideal layout of the street. Halfway through the second hour, the participants switched tables so everyone had a chance to do both activities.
Erica Dickson first worked on a cross section of the road, designing what she believed would be ideal. Dickson said she lives and works on North Temple and State Street.
“We go up and down State Street two or three times a day,” Dickson said. “It’d be nice to see it change and get better and grow.”
Dickson’s main priority was both safety and the look of the area.
“There’s so many really cool, neat buildings and businesses in this region that I don’t think people go to enough because of the safety,” she said.
Jade Sarver worked on the aerial layout of State Street during the first half of the workshop. Sarver said he works on State Street and lives in downtown Salt Lake City.
“I’m very passionate about the North Temple project. I wanted to come out and see what they’re going along State Street and what we can learn what’s working well on this project for enhancing the street life along here to bring to our neighborhood,” Sarver said. “I live downtown, I work downtown. I shop on State Street. I think anyone who lives on State Street should be here.”
Sarver said his top request for State Street was economic development. He believed by bringing more businesses to the area, it would increase commercial traffic, thereby increasing shopping and walkability.
The next step in the Life on State Street process is to gather the information provided by the public and create a presentation based off the information. That presentation will be given to the public to show what was designed and the what direction the project will take. The final plan will be finished at the end of the year and fundraising for the improvements will begin.
To learn more about the Life on State Street project, as well as how to provide feedback, visit