Community Relations

Navigating Traffic Woes: Sugar House’s Quest for Improvement

In recent decades, this chic Salt Lake City community has erupted in high-density residential and commercial growth, setting the stage for challenging traffic congestion and parking conundrums.


SUGAR HOUSE — And people driving along 2100 South — the main east-west thoroughfare in Sugarhouse — often face traffic delays and parking dilemmas that can cause the area’s charm to wear a bit thin.

But city officials and staff have worked to get ahead of the problem. In November 2018, voters approved an $87 million “Funding Our Future” bond to pay for much-needed improvements to major streets, 21st South among them.

“In Sugarhouse, 2100 South is used for everything,” said Salt Lake City Transportation Director Jon Larsen. “And that can be really challenging.”

The community’s rough boundaries extend from 500 East to 2100 East, between 1300 South and 2700 South — roughly 5.7 square miles according to And says that more than 42,000 people call it home.

Congestion problems plague Sugar House. Photos by John Taylor.

The community’s widespread appeal draws more than its share of vehicle traffic, compounding its challenges.

“Cars are so inefficient space wise. If you widen the streets to accommodate all the cars, then you don’t have any space left for anything else,” Larsen said.

In addition to accessing nearby shops and restaurants, 21st South also provides entry to connecting residential streets. And widening the alternately two- to four-lane road is not an option, since many storefronts directly border sidewalks and streets.  

“As Sugarhouse continues to grow vertically and intensify, the only way you can accommodate more people is to get them out of their cars,” Larsen said. “Luckily, we have the S line and the accompanying trail.”

The two-mile S Line — a trolley that connects South Salt Lake to Sugarhouse and the TRAX light rail system — runs alongside a bike and walking path that connects to Parley’s Trail network.

In May, extensive plans to reconstruct 2100 South from 700 East to 1300 East in 2024-2025 were made public, revealing the pressures that come along with intense growth.

For example:

  • More than 600,000 pedestrians flock to Monument Plaza (1078 E. 2100 South) per year
  • Approximately 30,000 vehicles use 2100 South every day
  • About 80 percent of those vehicles stop for some reason
  • Left turns contribute to 37 percent of crashes on 2100 South 
  • Speeds during rush hour range from 18 to 22 mph in the morning and 10 to 13 mph in the evening
  • UTA’s Bus Route 21 carries about 1,500 riders per day

Planned improvements include installing dedicated left-turn lanes and crash-reducing medians at key intersections along 2100 South to reduce the number of unexpected traffic stops. 

More trees and public space will also be added, along with biking and pedestrian-friendly travel areas along 2100 South.

Planners are also looking at solutions to Sugar House parking problems.

As far as parking, Larsen said that location matters and “how you crack that nut is kind of complicated.”

“There’s enough parking — but not necessarily enough created for each individual business,” Larsen said. “And there’s just not enough on-street parking to ever meet that full demand.”

Erika Wiggins, who co-chairs the Sugarhouse Chamber of Commerce, provided a map charting five paid and six public parking lots that serve the area, along with 109 customer spaces dedicated to specific businesses.

By email, Wiggins said she was unaware of any new parking developments in the works.

Business owners on 2100 South said their customers frequently deal with parking and traffic challenges.

This February, Rae Clapper opened Sugar House Craft & Create in the old Rockwood Furniture building at 1066 E. 2100 South. Many of her customers come to her art space to engage in scrapbooking for several hours at a time.

With very few stalls out front, Clapper said that most of them — with bags or rolling totes filled with craft materials in tow — park a couple blocks away or end up paying $10 at a nearby underground lot. 

“I give customers my cell phone number and say ‘text me when you get here and I will happily help you bring all your stuff in,’” Clapper said, expressing eagerness to find better solutions.

Last August, Mark Morris opened Work Hive in the Historic Hyrum Jensen Mansion at 775 E. 2100 South — a site near the community’s west edge. 

“When you get into the middle of Sugarhouse, traffic slows down,” Morris said. “But what we deal with here are people who are driving speeds that are certainly not appropriate for the neighborhoods.”

Morris noted that many Work Hive members who live within a couple of miles will bike to his Sugarhouse location. “They say biking is great in Sugarhouse — except on 2100 South,” Morris said. “The city is planning to add a pretty significant shared-use path along the south side of 21st South, which will give cyclists a safe place to bike.”

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