The public comment period for the Heber Valley Corridor study closed Wednesday. The next step for the study is gathering the funds for the environmental study.
UDOT Engineer Jeremy Bown explains how the planning study recommendation differs from the public input received.
“This planning study will still make the recommendation that the public saw at the public open house on February 20th,” Bown explained. “But again, this is a recommendation and not a final decision. This will be pushed forward to the environmental (study) which will have to investigate this and the impacts of all these options at a much greater detail than we did in this study.”
UDOT Communication Manager Geoff Dupaix says that the work done so far will inform the environmental study. One of the top comments heard was how rerouting of the highway along 1300 South would negatively affect neighborhoods. Dupaix explains why the planning study recommended rerouting along 1300 South.
“We looked at several options outside of that 1300 South area but what the traffic data showed was those wouldn't provide that long-term benefit like 1300 South would,” Dupaix said. “The other thing to consider with 1300 South is that's been on the County and the city's master plan for several years, prior to us starting work. We had to take that into consideration so when we did our traffic analysis it actually performed better than looking at other areas south and out of the way of the option that we're recommending at this point in time.”
Dupaix says that their decision was also impacted by the concerns of the Heber Valley Special Service District.
“They had some concerns about any option going up Southfield road,” Dupaix explained. “They felt that that was far more impactful to their sewer effluent operations than looking someplace else. So, they actually asked us to look at us possibly realigning 189 and connecting it to 1300 South along the edge of their property rather than through the middle of it.”
Dupaix says that while some residents are opposed to the re-alignment of 189, the original idea came from other members of the community.
“It was through the public engagement process that we had with the area residents as well as the agencies and the businesses in the area that we were able to identify this additional option of realigning 189,” Dupaix continued. “We recognize that these types of decisions can be difficult because it is something that affects people differently depending on where you're at, where you live, where you work. So, we do take these into serious consideration as we move forward.”
To fund the $4 million Environmental Study officials have looked at three different avenues to secure the funding. One was to have it earmarked by the Utah Legislature, but that did not happen at the 2019 legislative session. The other two processes would be to receive a Community Impact Board grant, those funds are collected from members of the extraction industry to pay for projects in communities they impact. The final option being pursued is to secure money from UDOT themselves during their annual budget planning.
“That’ll be something that Utah Transportation Commission will look at as they develop what's called the statewide transportation improvement program,” Dupaix said. “That's the states five-year program and they look at those next year's outside of that five years to determine what some additional needs are and how to fund those. So, we have to wait for that process to bear out before we would know officially, but that doesn't preclude funding coming in through other means.”
The STIP plan could be determined as soon as early May, local officials will also be presenting to CIB in early May.
Although the official comment period on the study has been closed Dupaix says UDOT will continue to listen to people’s concerns and accept emails to HeberValleyCoordior@Utah.gov