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Wasatch County

Provo Canyon trail proposal moves forward with $2 million Wasatch County pledge

provo canyon trail.png
Wasatch County
The new trail, in blue, would connect others at the Deer Creek Reservoir dam in Wasatch County and at Vivian Park in Provo Canyon, just inside the Utah County boundary.

At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Wasatch County Council made a big stride toward funding a trail into Provo Canyon, which could one day expand to a multi-county trail system.

The council agreed to contribute $2 million to build a paved trail from the Deer Creek Reservoir dam to Vivian Park in Provo Canyon. The Utah Department of Transportation and Mountainland Association of Governments pledged to fund the bulk of the $34 million project. More than half of the three and a half miles it would run would be in Wasatch County.

The new trail would complete a connection from Wasatch Mountain State Park to Utah Lake in Provo, as well as the Murdoch Canal Trail that runs north of Utah County.

“This segment of trail is very complex,” said Shawn Seager, Mountainland Association of Governments director of regional planning. “This happens a lot in transportation projects, where you save the last piece because it’s the hardest one to do, it’s the most expensive, it has all those elements to it.”

The process would require building through tricky terrain, as well as removing sections of the Heber Valley Railroad, then restoring after the trail’s finished.

It’s about more than just giving Wasatch and Utah County hikers and bikers a place to enjoy.

“I think the thought process is that it allows people to not have to ride bikes on 189, where it’s not really safe,” said Matt Parker, UDOT program manager. “There are quite a few people starting to do bigger loops from Salt Lake and through Midway, and then they go on down into Utah County, Guardsman Pass. There’s a whole grand plan to make a 200-plus-mile loop through Ogden, Salt Lake, Provo, up through Wasatch County, Summit County, Morgan and on down through there.”

Lobbying on behalf of their agencies, Parker and Seager brought up benefits the trail connection could bring to Wasatch County. They said with e-bikes becoming more popular, people could use the trails to ride into the county and spend money on meals. They also said eventually, with more access points, there could be more opportunities for a few rafting companies. Also, trail repairs would entail improvements to railroad tracks replaced during construction.

The council voted unanimously to have County Manager Dustin Grabau pay out the requested $2 million in phases. Councilor Marilyn Crittenden said the county should try to get the state to help fund Wasatch County’s portion since it would benefit Utahns in other counties.

Next come more meetings for UDOT and Mountainland to get final approval for the project. Those include a meeting with mayors and county commissioners, then with Utah County Commission, all ahead of a February 25 UDOT meeting where the final decision could be on the table.

Construction could begin this summer.

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