Next phase of S.R. 32 trail project may soon be underway, but the final cost could be triple

Significant increases in project costs have caused the estimated total to increase from $1.5 million to at least $4.5 million

Summit County officials hope to improve a pathway along S.R. 32, shown in March 2022, to better connect the Kamas Valley more than a decade after it was seemingly abandoned. The project was estimated to cost around $1.5 million last year, but staffers on Wednesday said the figure has likely tripled.
Park Record File Photo

Work resumed on a decades-old trail project to connect the Kamas Valley last year after it had been seemingly abandoned. Summit County engineers now anticipate the next phase will start later in 2023.

Engineer Steve Dennis on Wednesday provided the Summit County Council with an update about the S.R. 32 trail project, nearly one year after staffers introduced a plan to resume work. They estimated at the time it would cost around $1.5 million to complete the trail, but significant increases in project costs have caused the estimated total cost to triple.

The County Courthouse spent $820,000 on the project in 2022 for work that included building more than 6,000f feet, or more than 1 mile, of trail in Marion – extending it to 1500 North. Dennis said the feedback has been great so far, with no incidents on the trail that runs along the high-speed, two-lane road.

But engineers now estimate the county could spend $3.8 million to complete the rural trail section as the second half of the route contains wetlands, which is why the phase was pushed off until this year. Derrick Radke, who recently retired as the director of the county’s Public Works Department, previously warned the County Council that relocating wetlands can be costly.

Staffers reached a preliminary agreement with the South Summit School District to construct wetlands on a portion of land to offset the work being done on the trail. It’s estimated to cost $1 million for wetland mitigation construction as well as an additional $61,000 for monitoring. 

Chris Robinson, a member of the County Council, characterized the figure as “spendy.” He encouraged engineers to avoid the area using a boardwalk. Staffers estimated they could reduce the cost by around $200,000 if the work is completed in-house. However, they said the wetlands make up a large part of the trail.

County officials initially planned to help pay for the project using Transportation Sales Tax Funds. The Utah Department of Transportation awarded Summit County $2.1 million in TIF Active Transportation funds as a 60% reimbursement grant. UDOT assigned a project manager last year to oversee the disbursement.

Staffers in 2022 also co-hosted a public workshop with UDOT to gather public input about the Kamas Main Street area. It’s estimated to cost an additional $2 million to design trail concepts as well as complete construction from 300 North to 530 South.

Dennis said the increase in cost can be attributed to the change in scope from the initial project. Around 2.6 miles of trail have been added to the original plan.

This year, he said, engineers are hoping to reach Kamas. They plan to pick up where they left off by building 1.3 miles of trail to East 300 North as well as constructing wetlands so the work can continue in the future.

Pending input from Kamas City, just less than a mile could be built to connect the trail through the community, from 300 North to 530 South, at some point. Then, engineers are planning to build out the remaining 1.7 miles of trail from Kamas to Francis, around S.R. 35, in 2024.

Work began on the trail in the early 2000s, when it was designed as a transportation link and a walkable pathway for East Side residents. It was never completed, stopping around 2 miles before reaching Kamas.

The project garnered new attention in 2021 after the South Summit Trails Foundation created a petition advocating for its completion that received nearly 2,000 signatures. Many residents expressed safety concerns, which prompted the County Council to later approve plans for an 8-foot paved trail with shoulders on either side.

The County Courthouse plans to pursue Transportation Alternatives Program funding for the trail as well as additional grants from UDOT and other entities. Staffers applied for the Safe Sidewalks Grant last year, but were denied because of a previous award.

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