Millcreek prioritizes walkability on 3300 South in agreement with UDOTFeb 03, 2023 10:09AM ● By Sara Milano
A walkability map from Millcreek’s General Plan show planned pedestrian corridors. (Photo courtesy City of Millcreek)
In a metro region where, according to the census, nearly 95% of households have access to a car, walkability may not seem like an obvious priority for local government. Millcreek City Council, however, has chosen to make it a cornerstone in their development of the young city.
Their latest resolution to address walking infrastructure in the city passed unanimously on Jan. 10, approving an agreement between Millcreek and the Utah Department of Transportation to construct a sidewalk on 3300 South between 1885 East and 1940 East, near the Millcreek Unified Fire Authority station.
Mayor Jeff Silvestrini told residents in the city council meeting “we have been trying to install sidewalks on 3300 South since we incorporated.” Promoting a walkable downtown area was specifically identified as a priority for Millcreek in the city’s General Plan, adopted in 2019 as a policy guide for future decision making and city planning.
Walkability is a central tenet of creating “vibrant gathering places,” one of several themes around which the General Plan is centered. In addition to fostering vibrant community spaces, walkability has become a safety issue in a city characterized by wide roads and dominated by cars.
On Jan. 15, Salt Lake City recorded three separate auto-pedestrian crashes in 24 hours. Incidents like this reflect poor walking infrastructure that favors cars over people and presents serious safety concerns to pedestrians.
Despite efforts to install sidewalks along 3300 South, the council ran into challenges acquiring the right of way, an expensive and unexpectedly tedious process where the government acquires land from property owners legally by providing monetary compensation.
Silvestrini described 3300 South as “one of our busiest corridors” and explained that the installation of sidewalks on 3300 South has been a longtime priority for city council, saying “I campaigned on this the first time we incorporated.”
The stretch where the city plans to install the sidewalks is part of Evergreen Jr. High’s safe routes to school, and Silvestrini has “seen kids riding…on bicycles down 33rd (South) which just scares (him) to death.”
The project will be funded primarily by UDOT but will require a 25% match by the city of Millcreek. All future maintenance and repairs will also be the financial responsibility of Millcreek.
Councilmember Cheri Jackson described the ultimate goal of building pedestrian infrastructure, saying “it's frustrating that 33rd (South) sidewalks have to come just a little hurdle at a time…but we’re chipping away at it. (We are) slowly hoping to make that street more safe for pedestrians, bicyclists, people in wheelchairs and all that we see along the side of the road.”