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SLC’s East-West Connections across I-15 & Railroads

Snow-covered railroad tracks.

Reconnecting Communities: Healing Salt Lake City’s East-West Divide


Salt Lake City is a city divided by a regional north-south transportation corridor created by freight and commuter rail at grade level and an Interstate Freeway above.  These two regional connectors hinder east-west connectivity, alter community cohesion, and embed socio-economic inequities and environmental injustice into the fabric of the city.

The east-west division started in 1870, the year the Transcontinental Railroads famously joined in Utah. This was only 27 years after European settlement of area and well before the incorporation of the modern City Government. The rails were cause for great celebration, but also divided the city. When redlining maps were drawn in the 1940s, Westside neighborhoods were deemed undesirable and Eastside neighborhoods received the lion’s share of investment. The arrival of the freeways in the ensuing decades exacerbated the division and brought unsafe conditions and more pollution to the westside.

Now, finally, is the time to begin to come to terms with this divide. Reconnecting Communities is a robust community-centric planning effort to envision solutions for east-west crossings focused on a 6.1 mile highly urbanized corridor.

Read more background information in the Grant Application Narrative.

Federal Grant

In February 2023, Salt Lake City will receive more than $3.7 million dollars as part of the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program. Funds will be used to support planning analysis and prioritization of solutions to Salt Lake City’s transportation infrastructure-related east-west divide that foster connectivity and cohesion.  The work will begin with no preconceived notions about what solution(s) should be prioritized. The process will empower the communities most effected by the division to define the precise nature of the problem and propose solutions that address their needs and desires.

Funding Partners and Local Match Commitments

Salt Lake City | Utah Transit Authority | SLC Redevelopment Agency | SLC Public Utilities

Grant Application Information

In October 2022, Salt Lake City applied for a “Reconnecting Communities” grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation in order to launch a community-focused process to fully understand the current and past impacts of the divide, and to conceptualize, discuss, design, and estimate costs for both short-term and long-term solutions.

Community-based project partners including the Westside Coalition, NeighborWorks, and the Downtown Alliance have committed to help us in this initiative. Agency and institutional partners including the Utah Transit Authority, the Salt Lake City RDA, Union Pacific Railroad, and the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities will focus the technical and infrastructure needs to be considered when contemplating changes. This Reconnecting Communities grant builds on and strengthens a prior grant application from April 2022.

Read the full Grant Application Narrative.

Letters of Support and Comments from the General Public

Letters of Support

Salt Lake City CouncilWestside CoalitionNeighborWorks Downtown AllianceUnion Pacific Railroad (UPRR)* – Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT)U.S. Representative Chris StewartCentral City Community CouncilCentral 9th Community CouncilFairpark Community CouncilGlendale Community CouncilJordan Meadows Community CouncilPoplar Grove Community CouncilRose Park Community Council* – Ballpark Community CouncilCapital Hill Neighborhood Council* – 300 West Merchants’ AssociationBicycle CollectiveBike UtahBuilding Salt LakeCity of South Salt LakeCycling WestFisher BrewingFourth Street ClinicGardner Batt LLCGranary District AllianceGREENbikeLux EventsNeighborhood HouseRio Grande Plan co-author, Cameron BlakelyRio Grande Plan co-author, Christian LenhartSalt Lake Bees Minor League Baseball* – Utah Rail Passengers AssociationSalt Lake City Arts CouncilSalt Lake City Public LibrarySalt Lake City Transportation Advisory BoardSalt Lake City Bicycle Advisory CommitteeSalt Lake CountySalt Lake Education Foundation* – Salt Lake Garfield & Western / Patriot RailShelter The HomelessSorenson Community CenterSweet StreetsUniversity of Utah – City & Metropolitan Planning* – Utah Inland Port AuthorityUtah State FairVolunteers of AmericaWasatch Front Regional Council

* East-West Connections support for similar grant ** updated letter forthcoming

Comments from the General Public

Media and History Articles