Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics
Salt Lake City Winter Olympics Transportation Plan
The 2002 Winter Game, held from February 8 to February 24, attracted 2,527 athletes from 78 nations, 12,000 media members, 20,000 volunteers and 1.6 million spectators. 65,000 people needed to be transported into downtown every afternoon and evening in addition to everyday traffic of the Salt Lake City citizens.
To transport these people, a comprehensive transportation policy, plan, and implementation system is needed. Early in the fall of 1995, transportation representatives from more than a dozen local, state and federal transportation agencies met with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC). The meeting created the Olympic Transportation Working Group (OTWG). 31 transportation agencies on the OTWG met monthly from then on up to the Game. The purposes of the OTWG are: 1) develop a planning process for creating the Olympic Transportation Plan, and 2) insure coordination among agencies and organizations in transportation planning and operations.
Two very important decisions were made: first, transportation planning would be done on a venue-by-venue basis, which had the advantages of being compatible with the SLOC venue development structure. This allowed efficiency and clear responsibilities. Second, a simple and clear planning process was developed. Each venue team drafted a concept plan, which was critiqued by the OTWG, and approved by the Olympic Transportation Policy Group (OTPG) (OTPG consisted of the SLOC heads, Utah DOT, Utah Transit Authority, and the Mayor). The same venue team then developed an operational plan, which was also critiqued by the OTWG and approved by the OTPG. The operational plan then became the official plan.
During the Olympics, one quarter (approximately 75 acres) of downtown Salt Lake City was closed for events. Massive amounts of public right-of-way dedicated for public transit, which closed 25% of downtown streets. Before the Game, a Synchro model was used to simulate the downtown street and signal system. The City’s First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve 2001 was made a pilot test for the Olympic transportation plan. In addition, the US DOJ sponsored a desktop exercise for natural and man-made disasters mitigation and evacuation.
Travel Demand Management (TDM) shifted daily background traffic to hours two to three hours earlier resulting in a 30% to 35% traffic reduction as opposed to normal daily travels of the Salt Lake citizens. The UtahCommuterLink, the real-time transportation information, and the 511 traveler information telephone service were heavily relied on during and after the Game.
700 buses, 1,200 drivers, 29 light rail vehicles were borrowed from other cities during the Game. On peak days, the increased transit service saw twice as many bus riders as normal and seven times as many light rail travelers as normal. “This is a period of time I look back on as transit Camelot, where, for one brief moment, transit ruled. Life is kind of boring now”, says Andrew Gemperline, SLOC transportation director.
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