Summit County and Park City’s elected officials push UDOT for bike-friendly roads
The Utah Department of Transportation is planning on spending more than $15 million on road construction in Summit County during 2019. But, Summit County and Park City’s elected officials are encouraging the agency to consider more active transportation projects.
UDOT officials met with members of the Summit County and Park City councils on Monday to discuss the 2019 project list. Most improvements are located in the eastern end of the county and will primarily consist of repaving state roads and replacement of deteriorating bridges.
“Most of what you are showing us is widening and paving roads,” said Steve Joyce, Park City councilor. “That is a lot of dollars advocated for road infrastructure when we are really starting to put less emphasis on the single vehicle and a lot more emphasis on active transportation and public transportation. We would love to see you doing something more for active transportation.”
Summit County and Park City’s elected officials have prioritized the need for creating safe pedestrian and bicycle trails in recent years by supporting interconnectivity and alternative modes of transportation as a way to reduce traffic congestion along Park City’s main entry corridors.
Now officials are starting to explore ways to create connections to the East Side of the county, as well as to Heber and Midway, something Joyce said UDOT could become involved with.
“We are looking for help,” Joyce said. “How do you start building that infrastructure to get from place to place?”
Brad Palmer, UDOT’s Region 2 traffic operations engineer, acknowledged the progressiveness of Park City and Summit County’s active transportation goals compared to other cities in the state. Region 2 covers Tooele, Salt Lake and Summit counties. But, he said it will take some time for the agency to move in that direction.
“The way we have historically selected projects is we consider whether there are maintenance issues or problems with chokepoints,” he said.
Chris Potter, local government programs engineer for UDOT, said the agency is hiring more staff to focus on active transportation and public transit. He said the state Legislature tasked the agency with taking on a broader role to create opportunities for all modes of transportation.
“We are doing a lot of things, but for so many years the focus has been on roads,” he said. “Part of that is there has to be a change in driver behavior so it is safe for other modes of transportation to be on the roads. Some of our money used to just be for roadway projects, but now we can use it for active transportation infrastructure.”
Doug Clyde, Summit County councilor, said there are more opportunities now for the county to work with UDOT on cooperative projects, such as on the Jeremy Ranch interchange. The redesign of the Jeremy Ranch and Pinebrook interchanges incorporates pedestrian and cyclist improvements. It is being jointly funded by UDOT and the county.
“UDOT’s bread and butter used to be making sure highways and freeways stay in good repair,” he said. “While they are still all about maintaining roads, they also now have a transit and transportation hat on that causes them to increase the width of roads and allow for alternative forms of transport. It doesn’t only mean bus and rail. It also means alternative forms of transportation such as scooters, walking and biking. That was the major take home for me.”
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