Originally published June 27, 2022.

Salt Lake City, or SLC, is known as the “Crossroads of the West” due to being at the center of two of the country’s longest and busiest interstate highways: the north-south I-15 and the east-west I-80.

As one of Utah’s primary urban centers, served by two prominent American highways, traffic is a constant issue in Salt Lake City. And like any urban center, traffic tends to peak during workday and Saturday rush hour, which occurs both in the morning from 6 – 9 a.m., and in the evening from 4 – 7 p.m. Read on to learn more about traffic and congestion in SLC and how best to avoid the worst of the traffic.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident in Salt Lake City, contact the team of skilled Utah car accident lawyers from Great West Injury Law. We can help you pursue a fair settlement for your injuries.

How Does Salt Lake City Compare to Other Major Cities?

According to the 2022 United States TomTom Traffic Ranking, Salt Lake City is the 60th most congested major city in the United States. It is the 361st most congested major city worldwide and the only Utah city on the list. Residents of SLC can expect to lose approximately 83 hours per year on the city’s roadways, 18 hours of that just to traffic congestion.

Statistics showed that during the morning and evening commute in 2022, it typically took between 10-11 minutes to go just over 6 miles (10 km), an increase from 2021.  What Factors Affect Traffic in Salt Lake City?

Although traffic affects drivers worldwide regardless of their area, Salt Lake City’s geographic location and configuration create unique traffic circumstances. Contributing factors include:

Total population

The greater Salt Lake City metropolitan area is home to 1.26 million residents, encompassing 24 communities and two counties: Salt Lake and Tooele.

In addition to Salt Lake City—the state’s largest city with around 202,000 inhabitants as od 2023—the metropolitan area is also home to many of the state’s top 10 most populated cities, including West Valley City at 137,000 residents, West Jordan with 115,000 residents, Provo at 114,000 residents, and Sandy, Ogden, and South Jordan with 91,000, 87,000, and 84,000 residents respectively.

Most of the inhabitants in these communities drive to work every day, contributing to the regular rush hour traffic.

Urban chokepoints

Salt Lake City is effectively the point where the I-15 and I-80 highways intersect. The junction between the two routes is located in South Salt Lake and is one of the most significant traffic chokepoints in the city, especially during rush hour.

Other areas with significant amounts of traffic include the following areas:

  • North Temple Street
  • South Temple Street
  • Route 700 E
  • The intersection at North Temple and State Street
  • The intersection at Route 800 S and Route 500 E
  • W 14600 S

Low population density

The Salt Lake City area’s population density is much lower than most other metropolitan areas of similar size and population.

According to statistics compiled by USA.com, the Salt Lake City area’s population density is only 112.6 inhabitants per square mile, ranking 371st in the nation. The low population density contributes to longer commute times because residents must drive longer distances to get into the metro area. This is especially true for residents who live on the city’s outskirts but work in downtown SLC.

When is Rush Hour in Salt Lake City?

Salt Lake City experiences two regular rush hour periods from Monday to Saturday, one in the morning and one in the evening.

The morning rush hour typically lasts from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. as locals drive to work. The densest and most congested periods normally range from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

The evening rush hour usually begins at 3 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m., with the highest periods of congestion lasting between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The city’s rush hour periods are mostly consistent with the opening hours in the city’s shopping and retail centers (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and the standard business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

Like most major cities in the United States, traffic density in Salt Lake City is much milder on Sundays. The city’s vibrant Mormon culture means many local shops and businesses close on Sunday, resulting in less traffic.

After a Traffic Accident, Call Great West Injury Law

At Great West Injury Law, our priority is to help people hurt in car accidents get on their path to recovery by providing them with the legal assistance they need. We stand up to insurance companies regardless of their size, and we won’t stop until we obtain the compensation you deserve.

Contact our legal team today for a confidential, no-obligation consultation.