Eric S. Peterson | City Weekly

Imagine your life as it exists now. Waking up, walking the pooch in the morning, commuting to work, slugging through the day and coming home after stopping by the store on your way back. Now imagine it’s the year 2050 and your sharing your little world with 2.5 million more Utahns that now call the Beehive State home. What’s the air quality like with millions more wheels on the ground? Where we gonna put them all?– a floating city on Utah Lake? Planners shed light on their vision of the future Thursday and argued the state can accommodate growth and preserve a quality of life to make the future more utopian than dystopian.

Alan Matheson, Executive Director of Envision Utah and Andrew Gruber, Executive Director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council gave attendees of the Utah League of Women Voters a glimpse into the year 2050 at the organization’s “State of the Community” luncheon program Thursday.

The conundrum they explained was sharing Utah’s great quality life with future generations that will more than double the state’s population by 2050. That growth means adding 1 million new jobs and creating a transportation infrastructure that gets everyone whey they need to go and hopefully doesn’t add 2.5 million more cars to Utah streets. The key they argue is in planning that gives breathing room to the free market and that concentrates density around transit-oriented developments which in turn can still provide space for rural and agricultural neighborhoods elsewhere.

“We’re not saying everyone has to live in a walkable mixed-use community and take the train,” Gruber said. “But if we encourage more growth to occur in centers in Salt Lake City or Ogden, or along the Frontrunner transit-oriented development then that creates the opportunities to preserve the character of existing suburban or rural communities.” {….}