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SLC moves forward with plan for Main Street pedestrian mall

SALT LAKE CITY — Mayor Erin Mendenhall is advancing a plan to permanently close a chunk of Main Street to vehicle traffic, transforming the area from South Temple to 400 South into a pedestrian mall.

“The vision for Main Street has always been about creating a destination that enhances connectivity between people, which ultimately contributes to the long-term economic health of downtown Salt Lake City,” Mayor Mendenhall said in a statement.

The idea has been in the works for years now. FOX 13 News first reported on Mayor Mendenhall’s plan following the success of “Open Streets,” which originated in the COVID-19 pandemic. On Friday and Saturday nights, Main Street would close to vehicle traffic so people had space to spread out. Restaurants and bars had outdoor dining spaces, entertainers performed on the sidewalks and some shops stayed open late to capture the extra customer traffic.

“It was a way for people to get out and a safe way, be around each other and experience Main Street in a good way. It really was one of the silver linings of COVID,” said Peter Makowski, the project manager for Salt Lake City’s Office of Economic Development.

Main Street business owners — and even some on the side streets — reported an increase in customers.

“It brought people downtown when we needed it,” said Martin Norman, the owner of Uniquely Utah Souvenir Co. “Having the buskers out, it was phenomenal. It definitely brought people to Main Street.”

Norman told FOX 13 News he would like to see it made permanent. He wasn’t worried about losing any parking spots in front of his shop near 100 South and Main.

“People will find somewhere to park. You know, there’s plenty of parking downtown,” Norman said, noting parking lots and garages on side streets.

Main Street isn’t really great for parking or really driving, Makowski said. There’s a TRAX line through the middle of it and few paid parking stalls. The proposal will be to allow for limited vehicle access for things like delivery trucks. Cross-street traffic will remain, too. Safety measures will be put in place to help prevent people from being struck by a TRAX train.

Dee Brewer, the executive director of the Downtown Alliance, said a majority of downtown businesses support the idea of a pedestrian mall. Open Streets had universal acclaim and acceptance and Brewer said he is frequently asked when it would be made permanent.

“Residential population downtown is going to double in the next 24 to 30 months,” he said. “We need more public spaces and green space. Office workers are going to enjoy the conviviality of this space. Visitors, people who do not live or work downtown, constitute 61% of the traffic we see downtown. Of course, they’re going to enjoy a corridor of dining and bars and restaurants and performances.”

A pedestrian mall on Main Street is likely years away. Makowski said public surveys will first be conducted to get input on what features people would like. Ideas include removing curbs and adding more trees. People can take surveys at They will also take feedback in person when “Open Streets” returns starting in September.

Peter McDonald with the group Sweet Streets, which has advocated for more pedestrian-friendly streets and traffic calming measures, was happy to see a space like this planned in the heart of Salt Lake City.

“It makes it not just a destination where people are commuting in, doing their 9-to-5 and leaving. It’s a place where people can be all hours of the day,” McDonald said.


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