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For week ended April 02, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 31Mar00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

General Conference May Jam Downtown Salt Lake
Deseret News 30Mar00 D1
By Zack Van Eyck: Deseret News staff writer

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The expanded capacity for this coming weekend's LDS General Conference may cause traffic congestion in downtown Salt Lake as attendees fill not only the new 21,000-seat Conference Center, but also the 6,000-seat Tabernacle and 1,200-seat Assembly Hall. Weather permitting, another 2,000 could sit on Temple Square lawns listening to conference live through speakers on the square. The total, 30,200 people at one time, is one of the largest crowds Salt Lake City has ever seen.

Salt Lake City Police Captian Scott Atkinson points out that unlike other events, Conference visitors don't all leave at the same time -- many hang around Temple Square waiting for the next session, or come early, leaving the City to cope with up to 60,000 people downtown at once, "I think the traffic downtown will be a mess," Atkinson says. "Come early."

But the city also expects to learn from the experience, "It's going to be new for us," Atkinson said. "It will probably help us prepare for the Olympics as well." The city will post 14 additional police officers downtown Saturday and Sunday, mainly to direct traffic.

A test of the new Conference Center conducted by the Church on Tuesday itself caused traffic congestion, according to earlier reports in the Deseret News. And the Church is encouraging members to use public transportation to reach downtown. "Obviously, we want this to be a good experience for everyone attending the conference and not be a frustrating thing," said church spokeswoman Kim Farah. "People just need to plan ahead."

The Church is asking people to arrive no more than 90 minutes before the afternoon and Saturday evening sessions, so that those from the previous session have time to leave. It is also paying the Utah Transit Authority up to $20,000 to operate the new TRAX light-rail system on Sunday when it is normally closed."We encourage car pooling and also car pooling to the TRAX stations because the buses are not going to be running" on Sunday, Farah said.


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