A proposal for a trail through the Kamas Valley is gaining momentum
County officials are set to discuss funding this fall
The South Summit Trails Foundation has a vision for a transportation trail to link one end of the Kamas Valley to the other and allow residents to go to the grocery store or visit the fitness center without having to use a car.
The vision predates the foundation by more than a decade, and half of it was completed in the early 2000s, the pavement ending unceremoniously about two miles from its intended destination in Kamas.
Now, nearly 1,000 people have signed a petition urging Summit County officials to resurrect plans to link parts of the valley, with County Councilor Doug Clyde leading the charge during budget discussions last fall.
“For crying out loud, you know, we’re just trying to keep kids from getting run over by a (gosh darn) semi,” he said at a County Council meeting in November.
The existing trail and the proposed extension run along S.R. 32, a high-speed, two-lane road with a narrow shoulder that is the main route through the valley. The paved portion of the trail provides separation for people traveling alongside the well-trafficked highway.
“It really feels like a transportation trail, it’s got a little yellow line,” said Corey Dutton, the trail foundation’s secretary. “It’s off the road enough so it feels safe.”
Dutton said she wasn’t surprised to see the support the petition generated, some 500 signatures within its first 24 hours.
“I was expecting it,” she said. “Since we’ve been a trails foundation for going on five years now, every single resident of the Kamas Valley, when they come up to us at any event, any fundraiser, their No. 1 request: ‘Why don’t we have a trail from Marion to Kamas?’”
Summit County Public Works Director Derrick Radke said he has been directed by the County Council and county manager to complete design work for the trail in time for budget discussions this fall, and that it would be up to the council whether or not to fund the trail’s completion in the 2022 budget.
An $850,000 earmark for the trail was not carried over into the 2021 budget, Radke said, though he indicated a more specific price tag won’t be known until design work is completed in coming months.
He said he thought the last segment would be fairly expensive to build.
The trail would be within the easement for S.R. 32, which would prevent property-acquisition costs, but it would require a permit from the Utah Department of Transportation. Radke said he didn’t anticipate many problems, but indicated the trail’s path through some wetlands might pose issues.
In some instances, the project would be required to relocate those wetlands elsewhere, which can be a costly endeavor.
The trail section that was completed in the early 2000s — which runs about two miles, roughly the same length that has yet to be completed — was built largely with funding from a $500,000 grant, Radke said.
Clyde said last fall that the first half was largely accomplished through the work of former County Councilor and Commissioner Sally Elliott, and indicated the work had stalled without a sponsor.
Other councilors appeared willing to fund the trail construction, with Clyde making the case that if it were in any other part of the county, it would be built already.
He and other councilors indicated it was an important safety issue.
“We want it as a way for our children in the area of South Summit to be able to move along Hwy. 32 without becoming a grease stain on the road,” he said.
But councilors did not want the county to be on the hook for ongoing maintenance and operations costs, like repairing the trail or plowing it in the winter. Those costs are covered in other areas of the county by special service districts, which are generally funded through taxes on the property within the districts’ boundaries.
Clyde said he didn’t want this project to be contingent on South Summit forming a special service district to pay to maintain the trail, saying that would be a decade-long process. He also indicated achieving consensus from South Summit residents to tax themselves would be an uphill battle.
Dutton indicated that support for the trail was widespread in the community and that the biggest remaining hurdle was getting the county to start the work.
“Just build the dang thing,” she said with a laugh.
The Summit County Wildland Fire Unit is a county-founded, volunteer-run resource created to assist with an extended wildfire.
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