Sep 2, 2022 - News

Salt Lake City wants to permanently close section of Main Street to cars

A wide open street downtown closed off to cars.
Courtesy Open Streets

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said she wants to permanently convert a part of Main Street into a pedestrian corridor to draw more visitors and boost economic mobility downtown.

Driving the news: She shared her vision during a Thursday news conference previewing the last weekend of the Open Streets initiative, which temporarily closes Main Street from South Temple to 400 South to cars and invites street dining and live performers.

What she's saying: "When we travel … great cities [that] have embraced the growth and the vibrancy of their downtown cores make space for pedestrians in the heart of those places."

Between the lines: The city recently moved to lower speed limits on most Salt Lake City streets from 25 mph to 20 amid an uptick in deadly vehicle crashes.

Dee Brewer, executive director of the Downtown Alliance, said the idea to turn Main Street into a pedestrian corridor dates back to the 1960s.

  • "It's where we've celebrated. It's where we've protested. It's where we've done all sorts of things as a community," Brewer said.

State of play: The city has experimented with closing off a section of Main Street to cars over the last two summers.

The intrigue: Salt Lake City's downtown area ranks first in the nation for economic recovery post-pandemic — and 55% busier than before the crisis.

What's next: City leaders and the Downtown Alliance will continue to study how to make it a reality, but they did not specify a timeline.

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