Students Propose Commuter Tunnel by Capitol

Students Propose Commuter Tunnel by Capitol

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Ed Yeates ReportingA coalition of student engineers is proposing building a 20-million dollar tunnel under Columbus Street, allowing heavy traffic to bypass Capitol Hill.

Capitol Hill neighbors know what this is about. Like a broken hub of a wagon wheel, five streets converge on one intersection. Every day heavy traffic moves through one of the little spoke like corridors called Columbus Street. Once a quiet neighborhood road, Columbus is now a noisy, congested, ill-defined highway that's become a funnel for travel between Salt Lake and Davis County.

That's why 31 student engineers at the University of Utah decided to tackle the problem as part of their senior design class. They spent 25-hundred hours looking at all the options, like any big corporate engineers would do, and then came up with a plan. What’d they recommend? A tunnel, a subterranean roadway underneath Columbus Street.

On Capitol Hill today the plan moved beyond just a student project, intriguing the powers to be that this just might now be a viable option. Envision the tunnel, the first portal beginning at approximately 300 North and Main.

A fully landscaped round-a-bout above would let residents use their own existing street while the tunnel underneath Columbus would absorb the heavy commuter traffic - uninterrupted by stops signs or lights.

The second portal would be at approximately 500 North and Columbus Street, with tunnel traffic entering or exiting via Victory Road.

Philip Miller, Project Manager: “With 90 percent of the traffic underground, it’s really going to help the local scene out – safer, nicer. It will make the capitol and the downtown area safer, nicer, an easier place to visit.”

The project would cost 20-million and take eighteen months to complete. We'll have to wait and see where this goes now - if anywhere.

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