Economic Development - Research: Transportation

Salt Lake City’s prime geographic location has garnered it the title “Crossroads of the West.” Transportation is a major factor for businesses choosing to build or relocate their business to Salt Lake City. From a major international airport and heavy rail service to interstate highways connecting east to west and north to south, Salt Lake City is linked to the country and to the world, and provides multifaceted solutions for the movement of people and goods. A strong transportation infrastructure also connects the urban core to the suburbs through wide boulevards and efficient light-rail and commuter rail, making commute times low and connectivity high. The average commute time in Utah is about 21 minutes—significantly below the national average of 25 minutes. (Source: 2006 American Communities Survey)

Market Access

Relative Location to Major Metropolitan Areas
City Highway Miles Kilometers Driving Time Flying Time
Denver 535 861 8.5 hours 1 hours
Las Vegas 425 684 6.5 hours 1 hours
Los Angeles 689 1109 11 hours 1.5 hours
Phoenix 663 1067 11.5 hours 1.5 hours
San Diego 750 1207 12 hours 1 hours
San Francisco 736 1184 12 hours 2 hours
Seattle 840 1352 13.5 hours 2 hours


Salt Lake City directly connects to or is near several major interstate highways: Interstate 80 (east to New York City/west to San Francisco), Interstate 70 (east to Denver), and Interstate 1-15 (north to Canada/south to Mexico). The highways provide the city with great accessibility along the Wasatch Front and points beyond. Salt Lake City is also home to the Bangerter Highway and the I-215 belt route that provide expanded service to points within the Salt Lake Valley, home to over 1 million residents.

Motor Carriers / Trucking

The trucking industry employs more that 13,000 workers in Salt Lake County. There are more than 2,300 interstate and intrastate motor freight carriers with operations in Utah. Daily direct service from Salt Lake City to all major cities in the continental U.S. and Canada is available through these carriers.


Salt Lake City's status as the crossroads of the West has allowed it to provide interline switching routes for West coast rail transit shipments, and for Eastern and Midwestern transit shipments, with the advantage of not having to backhaul shipments. With 1,500 miles of railroad spanning Utah, the city also provides excellent access to local markets. Businesses can ship their freight through the Union-Pacific Railroad and Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway Company. For business travelers, Amtrak provides a wide range of times and connections.

Union-Pacific Trans-loading Facility

The new Union-Pacific Trans-loading Facility located in Salt Lake City can accommodate up to 250,000 container lifts annually and provide connections to major eastern and western population centers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Trans-loading Facility is also the first major destination and interchange point for Union-Pacific Railroad from Seattle, Portland, Oakland and Los Angeles/Long Beach.


Salt Lake City International Airport served 22.2 million passengers in 2005. It is currently ranked the 25th busiest airport in the nation and 50th in the world. The Airport offers non-stop flights to over 110 cities with over 73,000 daily airplane seats available. Geographically, the Airport is within a two and a half-hour flight from half of the nation's population. Salt Lake City International is the largest hub in the Western United States and the third largest hub for Delta Air Lines. Other airline carriers include AeroMexico, America West / America West Express, American, Atlantic Southeast, Comair, Continental/Continental Express, Frontier, JetBlue, Northwest/Northwest Airlink, Salmon Air, Southwest, United Express, and United Airlines.

Air Freight

Air freight service in the Salt Lake area puts shippers within hours of any point in the nation. Sixteen cargo carriers handle more than 550 million pounds of air cargo and airmail. Over the past 10 years, air cargo volumes at the Salt Lake City International Airport have grown at an annual average rate of 9 percent. More than 300 million pounds of air freight move through the Airport’s cargo facility each year.

Port of Entry

Salt Lake City is a full-service customs port city. Goods that enter under bond may be stored in customs-bonded facilities for up to five years without payment of customs duty. If goods are exported during this period, no duty is paid. Otherwise, duties are payable at the end of the term or upon entry into U.S. markets for consumption.

At the Salt Lake City International Airport, the International Arrivals building has the capacity to handle more than 200 arriving international passengers per hour. The building houses the United States Federal Inspection Services (including Customs and a duty-free shop) and permits passengers to recheck baggage, move through screening, and proceed to the departure lounge.

Public Transportation

Salt Lake City government pursues a balanced transportation approach to proactively address challenges associated with growth and traffic congestion. The light rail system, known as TRAX, has a 15 mile line running from Sandy (South Salt Lake Valley) to Salt Lake City and four miles from downtown Salt Lake City to the University of Utah. Additional trax extensions are planned to the Salt Lake City International Airport, South Jordan, West Valley, West Jordan, and Draper. Salt Lake City is also serviced by the UTA bus system, which provides easy access to the downtown area and surrounding suburbs with over 100 routes, serving cities 45 miles to the north (Ogden) and 40 miles to the south (Provo). Both systems are operated by the Utah Transit Authority. High-speed commuter rail that will connect Salt Lake City with Ogden and Weber and Davis Counties is scheduled to open in 2008.


Regional and State Resources

Utah Highway Map
Utah Highway Patrol
Utah Department of Transportation
Salt Lake City Transportation Division

451 So. State Street, Rm. 404 | Salt Lake City, Utah 84114 | Tel. (801) 535-7273 | | Hours: M-F 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM