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Social media can be a funny thing sometimes – not funny “ha, ha,” mind you, but more of a funny “wow, these two things couldn’t be more different” sort of way.

On Tuesday, UTA and Salt Lake City celebrated the official opening of the 600 South TRAX station. The area of land, set aside since the system’s opening in 1999, always represented the future of what transit could be for Utah in general and Salt Lake City specifically – a green island waiting for the city to inch southward, justifying a new light-rail stop.

On the same day, in conjunction with the right-leaning group Americans for Prosperity, a Lehi gas station temporally lowered it’s price for unleaded fuel to $2.38/gallon with dozens, if not a few hundred, cars sitting and idling in a suburban neighborhood, waiting upwards of 2 hours for their chance to fuel up.

Yes, at the very same time, some 20 miles apart, we saw the stark contrast between smart growth and planning and the very real effects of unmitigated sprawl and auto-dependency.

And, make no mistake, those in Lehi are very much the victims of 75 years of auto-focused planning that put the needs of cars above the needs of livable, people-focused communities. These decisions ripple forward through time, creating policymakers that simply can’t see a future that doesn’t include cars as the only option to move around neighborhoods, cities, counties, and the state with the end result being pain at the pump, polluted cities, and the stress associated with traffic.

They say the best time to break a habit is yesterday, and the second best time is today. We must be bold and advocate for a better future for our communities, a future that focuses on the needs of people, not the needs of cars, with transit options ranging from wider sidewalks and bike lanes to commuter and regional rail to meet these needs.

Change is possible in current communities, and smart growth will prevent these issues in the future, but we must be willing to fight for it.

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