Summit County’s new active transportation plan considers 60 projects, including an S.R. 224 overpass and paving the Rail Trail
The Summit County Council approved a document last week that could enable officials to secure more federal and state funding for transportation infrastructure.
The active transportation plan, a first for the county, includes a prioritized list of 60 infrastructure projects in Park City, the Snyderville Basin and the East Side. They range from stairway refurbishment in Old Town to an overpass across S.R. 224 to a shared-use path from Oakley to Francis.
The county’s population is expected to continue its fast growth in coming years, and the plan attempts to address current and future pedestrian and bicyclist needs.
A range of stakeholders from Park City, Summit County, the Utah Department of Transportation and other entities incorporated public input to create and prioritize the list of projects in an attempt to guide future growth.
The plan itself grew out of a request from UDOT that the county create an inventory of existing and unmet transportation needs. According to the document, UDOT has refused to fund some infrastructure projects in recent years despite numerous requests from county staff and residents, citing the lack of a coherent plan drafted with community input.
Caroline Rodriguez, the county’s regional transportation planning director, told the County Council the projects won’t all be accomplished in the near-term, but the document will guide future investments.
“The purpose of this plan is to set us up to seek funding,” Rodriguez said.
She cited an example of the county requesting UDOT add full bike lanes when it was repaving state roads like S.R. 32 on the East Side. Without the county having a planning document to point to, the requests were denied.
Rodriguez said the hope is that county staff, including the planning and engineering departments, will refer to the plan while evaluating future projects and incorporate recommended infrastructure where feasible.
It could also show developers what sort of infrastructure the county would like to see included in new projects. There has been a ban on granting new density in the Snyderville Basin unless there is a “compelling countervailing public interest” that is served by the project. Generally, that has been seen as adding affordable housing or public transportation connections. This document could provide another option, where a developer could include substantial active transportation infrastructure as a community benefit, county manager Tom Fisher said.
In the public input period of drafting the plan, which Rodriguez said failed to secure much participation from East Side residents, the most common request was a pedestrian crossing over S.R. 224.
Rodriguez said the likelihood of securing UDOT funding for that project was low and the county would likely have to finance it with the help of grants. The most commonly requested location was by the “Blue Roof” 7-Eleven at Silver Spring Drive, but Rodriguez said the data doesn’t necessarily support that as the best spot for an overpass. The plan recommends further study to finalize a location, but Rodriguez said it has been determined that an overpass is preferable to a tunnel under the road.
Councilor Chris Robinson expressed reservation about one of the plan’s largest recommendations, paving nearly 19 miles of the Rail Trail from Quinn’s Junction to Echo.
Robinson said he’s met with constituents who were dissatisfied with the level of upkeep of the currently paved sections of the trail, and pointed out paving part of the trail didn’t help some users, like equestrians. Councilor Kim Carson echoed that point, saying some people prefer to jog on softer ground, for example.
Rodriguez explained the rationale behind that project was to be able to secure federal transportation money. To be eligible, a trail or road has to be a usable means of transportation year-round. That could potentially require paving and plowing the trail.
Fisher explained that, before that happened, the public would be asked to weigh in, and that the county hasn’t yet decided whether to pursue that option. He added that the Rail Trail is a state-owned asset and that its 100-foot-wide right-of-way might enable a parallel soft path next to paved portions.
The plan passed unanimously as it was presented, including the goal of paving the Rail Trail.
The plan is available by searching for “active transportation plan” on the county’s website, summitcounty.org.
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