Group to plan regional transportation |

Group to plan regional transportation

Caroline Kingsley, The Park Record

Summit County is participating in a committee that aims to solve regional traffic and environmental issues in the Wasatch and Summit County areas.

Wasatch Summit is a group made up of cities and counties along the Wasatch Front and Back, as well as the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Transit Authority, the Federal Authority, the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Highway Authority.

"We’re trying to find a consensus position on how we can move forward over the next 50 or 100 years on how we’re going to access these canyons, how we’ve going to allow ski resorts and back-country skiers to exist and expand, how we’re going to deal with air quality and how we’re going to do mass transit," Summit County Councilmember and committee vice-chair Chris Robinson. "So it’s very complicated. It’s a three- to five-year process. This is not something that’s going to happen overnight."

Summit County Council Chair Claudia McMullin added that it’s an important process.

"Our goal is regional collaboration around transpiration and planning," she said. "And that’s what this body is all about."

The committee is embarking on a $4.5 million study on how to "solve traffic and environmental issues surrounding accessing recreation and watershed, while allowing businesses to thrive in a resort economy," according to Robinson.

The Utah State Legislature approved $2.6 million to cover about half the cost of the study, and each of the committee’s participants is asked to financially contribute toward the study as well.

"They’ve asked that we contribute $100,000 over two years, with the first installment due September 30. But they have a little provision: ‘budget allowing,’" Robinson said. "So I’m just trying to figure out what the number is, given we have no money in our budget this year, and it may be that we have to do a very modest amount this year and double up next year when we can budget for it."

County Manager Bob Jasper said that while agrees with sharing costs for the study, he doesn’t think the county can afford the $100,000 price tag and suggested the county offer to contribute $50,000.

"I think what they really want is for us to participate," he said.

Robinson said he’s alright with $50,000, adding that Salt Lake City and County, which were asked to contribute more money, have a lot more at stake because the Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, and where much of the activity will take place, are in their jurisdiction.

"But by the same token, it may involve building infrastructure, federal funding and a lot of other things, and that infrastructure may need to go in this county, so we definitely need to be involved," he added.

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