SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — A new pedestrian bridge near West High School in Salt Lake City could be a huge boon for both students walking to school and commuters heading to work during the morning hours.
The intersection two blocks west of the school problem crossing for students and commuters alike: 300 North and 500 West where five railroad tracks stretch across the road.
Those five railroad tracks, belonging to the Union Pacific and the Utah Transit Authority, have long posed safety issues, especially for students trying to get to school. Officials say the new pedestrian bridge over those tracks is the answer to decades of concerns.
West High School Principal Jared Wright said 60% of his student body lives west of the high school. While some take advantage of school buses or the complimentary UTA bus pass for students in the Salt Lake School District, many others walk or bike along 300 North to get to school. Wright said even when he was attending West High as a student, the intersection was a safety concern.
“It was dangerous,” said Wright. “There were all kinds of issues here. My guess is this was an area of concern even before 1990.”
Salt Lake City Council Member Chris Wharton said when he was running for council in 2017, he often heard concerns about the railroad tracks. Residents in the area told him they would see kids running across the tracks, cutting underneath stopped trains or wedging between cars. Wharton said he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“I was just shocked by that. That a school that has been here for as long as West has been here that is completely unacceptable to me that we would have a situation where we would put kids through that,” said Wharton.
With the introduction of the pedestrian bridge, students and commuters no longer have to either wait for a stopped train to begin moving or roll the dice and dart across the tracks. UTA officials said the bridge vastly improves the safety of the intersection for everyone.
One local resident, Rob Trishman said while he hasn’t seen students cut through the train tracks, he has done it once himself.
“Sometimes they just come here and just stop for a while,” said Trishman. “I know they’ve got the train yard down there and they have to do some business there but people have to get places too. This helps everybody.”
Trishman said the bridge was long overdue in the neighborhood. He was glad everyone had a safer option, especially since he and his kids like to bike in the neighborhood and occasionally he would go for runs across the intersection.