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SALT LAKE CITY — For the past 16 months, getting a bite to eat during lunchtime has been quite a hassle to many patrons who frequent local eateries like the Red Iguana on North Temple — thanks to construction work on that thoroughfare's viaduct and bridge between 300 West and 600 West.
The project forced time-consuming detours, resulting in many potential customers deciding to avoid the area altogether. Now, the long wait is finally coming to an end.
On Wednesday, the new — but not fully completed — viaduct will reopen to vehicle and pedestrian traffic, once again giving direct access to eastbound and westbound North Temple to thousands of residents and business patrons.
We wish they wouldn't have closed North Temple because everything comes through North Temple.
"(During construction), you would run into (freight) trains often times that would block your way (along the detour routes)," said Steve Good of Salt Lake City. "It was a bit of a logistical issue."
Good said having the road reopened would make traveling in the area "99 percent better."
Rose Park resident Les Blake works downtown and said regaining access to "one of the central routes" he takes to his job would make his life much less stressful as well as the lives of many of the local establishments affected by the closure.
"It will be good for the businesses, good for the commute, good for people who work here," he said.
Both Good and Blake also said they looked forward to the eventual opening of the light-rail line that will take passengers to the Salt Lake City International Airport.
The viaduct and bridge construction is part of the $350 million TRAX extension project. The viaduct portion of the project accounted for $71 million of the total cost.
- 500 West Station
- 800 West Station
- 1100 West, located near the Utah State Fairgrounds
- 1500 West Station
- 1950 West Station
- Airport Station, located just east of Terminal One
Because of the closure, businesses to the east and west of the bridge saw their bottom lines affected significantly.
The Red Iguana on west North Temple reportedly lost 1,000 patrons per month — which translated to about $30,000 in lost revenue. The owner of Crown Burger at the corner of North Temple and 300 West said his restaurant lost about $500 per day.
"We wish they wouldn’t have closed North Temple because everything comes through North Temple," said Manual Katsanevas. While he knows he'll never recoup the lost revenue, he said that hopefully the project will have a long-term benefit for his and other area businesses that were able to survive the construction.
Besides enhanced traffic access, a new TRAX line will aid in improving transportation along the North Temple corridor.
The airport light-rail line is scheduled to be operational by 2013. The airport extension is one of five rail projects UTA has had on its construction docket over the past few years.
Last week, the $535 million Mid-Jordan TRAX extension and the $370 million West Valley TRAX line officially began operation, with the proposed $212 million Draper TRAX extension and $850 million FrontRunner commuter-rail line from downtown Salt Lake City to Provo scheduled for completion by 2015.
The new North Temple bridge will include two lanes of traffic in both directions with the light rail tracks to be installed adjacent to the westbound lanes and down the middle of the road as the tracks extend out to the airport. The project will eventually look similar to the University line on 400 South, UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter explained.
Carpenter said the bridge construction was completed three months ahead of schedule, which is certainly welcome news to local businesses and residents.
"They've counted on commerce from the downtown area to patronize their businesses, so this has been a challenge," Caprenter said. "So hopefully business is going to pick up here now."