SLC mayoral candidates to give their thoughts on city transportation Wednesday

Groups concerned with improving the region’s poor air quality through transportation outside of cars will hold a forum to hear where each member in a crowded field of mayoral candidates stands on transportation issues.

The forum will take place Wednesday at the Downtown library from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

It will offer the first insight into transportation-specific policies from eight mayoral candidates, one of whom will oversee the city’s Transportation Division that’s receiving an influx of money from voter-approved bonds.

“Our primary goal for the forum is to educate the public about the candidates’ transportation priorities so they can make informed decisions during the election,” said Phil Sarnoff, Bike Utah’s executive director. “Salt Lake City is undergoing significant change and the next mayor will have to address the competing transportation needs of residents, commuters, and visitors.”

The forum will offer insight into the candidates’ approach to transit, biking, road repair and parking issues, each of which typically causes contentious debates during a mayor’s administration.

At least eight candidates are running to replace Mayor Jackie Biskupski (the filing period ends Friday). The primary election is Aug. 13.

Residents and business owners in the 9th and 9th neighborhood mobilized against the loss of 29 parking spaces making way for a roundabout and improved bike and pedestrian routes. (The city found a way to lower that to 20 repurposed parking spaces by adding angled parking, and the project is moving forward after two tense public meetings).

There was tension when the city agreed to repurpose two travel lanes on 1700 South to add parking and a painted, buffered bike lane in each direction. The city is opting for painted (rather than parking- or curb-protected) bike lanes between State Street and 300 West.

The forum also comes as the city considers adjusting its Complete Streets ordinance and looking at adjusting its street typologies guide. The new typologies potentially would reflect the true variability in road types and uses, city officials have said.

The city also recently unveiled a new proposed parking ordinance that could change the amount of parking required during developments based on zoning. Currently, the city’s parking ordinance largely spells out how much parking is required based on the development type.

The forum also comes at a time when the city’s progress on its bike network has largely stalled, according to a nonprofit group that ranks such progress.

People for Bikes noted in its most recent ranking that Salt Lake City’s progress has largely stalled recently while other cities build out and accelerate their bike networks.

Other topics that will be covered during Wednesday night’s forum include:

  • Public transit
  • Working with UDOT, which maintains several roads through town as highways, including State Street, 700 East and portions of roads Downtown.
  • Transportation and land use
  • Safety
  • Transportation equity
  • Transportation and air quality
  • Placemaking

The following candidates planned on attending:

  • Jim Dabakis
  • Luz Escamilla
  • David Garbett
  • Richard Goldberger
  • David Ibarra
  • Erin Mendenhall
  • Stan Penfold
  • Christian Harrison (dropped out of race June 4, 2019)

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