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UDOT Taking Public Comment on Heber Traffic Study

Highway 40
Ken Lund on Flickr

On Wednesday, Wasatch County Council received an update on the UDOT study being done to determine future traffic solutions for Heber City’s Main Street.

The Utah Department of Transportation is collecting public input before they begin an environmental impact study. It’s the first step to formally address long time concerns about truck traffic on U.S.40 as it runs through downtown Heber City. UDOT’s Project Manager Jeremy Bown told the council they do not have preconceived ideas about future traffic solutions for Main Street in Heber. A traffic count was done in 2019 to gather data. They use a report card method to grade road service levels. 

“Existing traffic conditions during that P.M. peak, we have failing levels of service on the arterial grade there, 11 mph. So, this is a 35-mile an hour speed limit through most of Main Street, right.  So, when you're down in the 10, 11 or 12 miles an hour, that's considered a failing level of service. The backup up at 5th North, southbound, into town becomes extremely significant. Currently our back-up there is about 275 feet, is the average and in 2050 our model showing that 2050 no-build is showing 6300 feet. So, from less than a football field to over a mile and a half back up in 30 years if nothing is done.”

Bown says commercial trucks make up about 4% of the vehicle traffic on U.S. 40 through Heber City’s downtown. The other 96% are considered private vehicles which can include trailers, campers, pick-ups and other passenger vehicles. 

“Everything from your single unit box truck up to your multi-unit tanker trucks are all considered commercial heavy trucks. So, during the peak hour we’re really showing 4% trucks and 1 %, during the peak hours, are those oil tanker trucks.”

A stakeholder committee of 18 people has been formed to represent the community. Down says the feedback he’s received indicates people are mostly concerned with truck traffic. 

“I get the feeling from people we talk to and from stakeholder working group meetings that people feel like there's a lot more trucks than these numbers are indicating. I think 600 to 700 trips by a truck, I think that's a lot personally. I don't have that experience of walking down Main Street and having those trucks pass by.”  

Council member Marilyn Crittenden says businesses are concerned about diverting all traffic from Heber’s commercial district. 

“I think some of that reason is if we make it so easy to just avoid Main Street, we end up like a lot of other towns that the Main Street dies and all we did was move the traffic in the commercial to another spot. And I think that might be some of why you're hearing that comment.” 

Bown says UDOT has received 26 comments since the public input opened August 27  so far and wants to emphasize the agency has no predetermined plans to build a bypass.

“The themes that we have so far is the desire to improve safety and walkability on Main Street, divert truck traffic, needs for intersection improvements and some ideas on how to do that. And then concerns about community and environmental impacts as well as the bypass route.” 

Bown says once the environmental impact study is finished in 2023, and they determine a project is warranted, it would compete with other state projects for funding. 

The public comment period closes on September 26. To view the study and submit comments, visit UDOT's website.