Five western bypass options under consideration in Heber Valley traffic project
The Utah Department of Transportation announced Tuesday it intends to build a four-lane bypass road west of Heber City, and has narrowed down options for what that will look like.
UDOT says it will evaluate the five designs on its short list in the Heber Valley environmental impact study and make a decision next winter.
Each finalist calls for new roads south and west of Heber City. Those are designed to connect traffic traveling north toward Heber on U.S. highways 40 and 189 to a new road through what is now farm land west of town. A multi-use trail is planned to run along whichever option is chosen.
The main design differences among the finalists involve changes to roads north of town. While all options would connect the new bypass road and Highway 40 just north of the city, two options would also build a road through the Heber Valley North Fields.
Two finalists would remove and reroute part of Highway 189 where it runs parallel to the Heber Valley Airport.
The concepts differ in speed limits, where to put traffic lights and frontage roads, and how the bypass will interact with other roads along Highway 40.
Project manager Craig Hancock said his UDOT team narrowed down options from dozens of designs. To do so they based decisions on benefits to drivers and impacts to the community and environment.
“We’re looking for reasonable mobility for people that are coming to our from the Uintah Basin and also people that are going to or from Provo Canyon, as well as looking at making improvements to people who are staying within the valley,” Hancock said.
The two concepts with routes through the North Fields face opposition from residents and the Wasatch County Council. A group of about 750 people signed a petition opposing a similar design last fall, and the council also passed a resolution last month opposing that route.
Opponents argued a road through the North Fields would detract from the beauty of the valley’s signature open space. Others asked UDOT to drop the idea because conservation groups won’t move forward with open space preservation efforts in areas impacted by the roads project.
“There was a lot of concern from folks about the development that's happening in the north Heber area and that northeast area,” Hancock said. “There were a lot of comments that we should be considering extending the connection of the bypass further north up to the S.R. 32, to the intersection there. And so we felt like this was a reasonable alternative.”
The information released Tuesday includes comparisons of property where the different choices would require condemnation. The options through the North Fields would affect about 210 acres, and the others between 140 and 180 acres.
Cost estimates range from about $170 million to $230 million. Hancock said funding for the project is also still undetermined but could come from federal, state and local sources.
A 45-day public comment period begins Tuesday and will last through July 22. Residents can weigh in on what UDOT is considering and raise any concerns.
Hancock said it’s still too early to say how soon the project could actually break ground. However, in a recent meeting with Wasatch County, Heber City and Midway officials, UDOT Commissioner and former Senator Kevin Van Tassell said it could be a decade or more.