Over 200 people came to the Heber Valley Parkway and Main Street Corridor planning study open house on Wednesday evening some to learn more about the proposed changes and some to voice their displeasure.
The open house and study are a collaboration between Heber City, Wasatch County, UDOT and the Mountainland Association of Governments or MAG. Shawn Seager of MAG says they received plenty of feedback at the open house.
“Yeah we had a really good turnout,” Seager said. “I think we estimated 220 people showed up on a very cold winter night and came out and got educated about the different options that are being considered. Gave us some great input about their thoughts, their ideas, their concerns and things that they’re interested in seeing more about.”
Around 30,000 daily trips occur on Heber’s Main Street today, UDOT predicts that by 2050 if the route is unchanged it could rise to over 40,000. Seager also noted that the population of both Wasatch County and the entire state of Utah is expected to double by 2050.
One hotly contested item of the bypass was the southern portion of the parkway. The recommended route would have those traveling northbound on US 40 veer left on a new road located just south of the Holiday Inn Express that would connect with 1300 South. The road would run right near the Wal Mart and next to a few neighborhoods. Colleen Southwick a resident of Alpine Meadows expressed her frustration with the recommended route.
“We don’t understand why 189 is going to be rerouted I mean directly in our backyards, directly in our backyards,” Southwick continued. “I’m not saying they care more about the truckers but sometimes it feels like that. Why are we caring if they have to come here and back up? That might take, I don’t know, I really don’t know.”
Seager explained that if the route is selected mitigations would be made to lower the impact of the road on the neighborhoods.
“1300 South would be on the edge of a neighborhood on the south edge of an existing neighborhood in the sewer farm area” Seager explained. “There’s actually a drainage canal that would separate the two activities. So this would be new construction in the new field area. The residents that back up against that are very concerned about the truck traffic the general traffic that would be attracted to that new road and so I understand their concerns. I think there’s ways to mitigate the impacts of that traffic on that neighborhood with things like sound walls, berms, tree plantings and other strategies.”
Seager says the purpose of rerouting 189 is not related to an airport expansion.
“The purpose of rerouting the alignment of 189 is to make it a straight through direction to U.S. 40 on the north end,” Seager said. “We do have an option to bring the bypass down Southfield road and that would keep 189 in the same location as it is today. There’re a couple options there that we still need to look at. One of them does take the road further away from the airport that could benefit the airport in terms of their safety margins, but it would not do anything in terms of realigning airport improvements or anything that way.”
The next step in the process is securing $4 million for an Environmental Impact Study. Partners are looking to secure the funds through multiple avenues including UDOT funding and a CIB grant. After the study there are still plenty of steps left including securing the land, before construction can begin. Seager says they aren’t sure of exactly what that timeline will look like.
“It’d be great if we could get an alignment that we all agree upon so that we can conduct corridor preservation,” Seager continued. “So that when we do need to build something, we have a corridor that’s been cleared environmentally, has been preserved by the local government. That’s what Wasatch County and Heber City have been doing with their local corridor preservation funds. They’ve purchased more than $3 million of right of way for the bypass. It would be great if we could all agree upon where the bypass is going to be in the future.”
Another aspect of the meeting was the Main Street revitalization. Seager said that elected officials envision Heber’s Main Street becoming a destination main street somewhat like Park City’s historic Main Street.
See the original story at kpcw.org.