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Delays, Heavy Traffic Expected for Eventful Downtown Weekend

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) - Be sure to bring your patience with you if you're heading into downtown Salt Lake City this weekend.  Several holiday and sporting events coupled with holiday shoppers will make for a heavily congested downtown.

The holiday lights display at Temple Square will be joined by a performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert at the LDS Conference Center this weekend.  Throw in a White Christmas performance at the Eccles Theater, the Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular at Abravanel Hall, and a Utah Jazz game and you've got a recipe for a busy downtown and roads.

"That's a big deal and you've got a lot of people in a close proximity down there," says John Gleason, spokesperson for the Utah Department of Transportation. 

The Eccles Theatre has a seating capacity of about 2,500 people, Abravanel Hall, about 2,800.  The LDS Conference Center can hold up to 21,000 people and Vivint Smart Home Arena can hold up to 19,900.  With events going on at every one of these facilities this weekend thousands will be trying to find parking and managing the congested roads.  

"It's gonna take longer than anticipated if you're just focused on one event you're not gonna notice the other events going on.  But, there are quite a few of them going on in a 3 block radius  that's gonna cause some issues for some people trying to get to downtown this weekend," Gleason says.  

But UDOT is prepared.  It's something they prepared for in advance.  This weekend they'll be monitoring traffic lights to optimize traffic flow by increasing the number of green lights on the major roadways.

"You don't want to be on the side streets because it will take a little bit longer to get a green light so you want to stick to those main roads: State Street, 300 West, 400 South, North and South Temple," says Gleason.

 They'll also be bringing in extra traffic engineers to help monitor the roads in real time and deploy resources in the event of an unforeseeable circumstance -- like a car accident -- to reduce the impact such an event will have on the already heavy trafficked area.  

"Leave yourself some extra time. It's gonna take longer than anticipated if you're just focused on one event you're not gonna notice the other events going on," added Gleason.  "Show up before it gets too late."

UDOT expects there to be the most traffic between 6:00 and 7:30 p.m.  and recommends people arrive in the downtown area around 5:00 p.m. to avoid the heavy traffic and make it to their event on time.  

They also recommend taking public transportation -- Trax and Frontrunner -- are good options for anyone looking to avoid the traffic and parking headaches when heading into the capitol.  

"This is a perfect opportunity for that you wont have to fight the traffic as much," says Gleason.

Be prepared so that nothing takes you by surprise.  

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