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Heber Valley road bypass comment period ends this week

udot june release 1.jpg
Credit UDOT
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Tuesday morning, UDOT released a list of five traffic routes it will continue to evaluate in the process of selecting a plan to reduce traffic in Heber City.

As the Utah Department of Transportation’s study for how to reroute highway traffic in the Heber Valley continues, the public’s opportunity to weigh in is winding down.

This is the final week to send comments about rerouting U.S. Highway 40 away from downtown Heber. UDOT opened up the comment period June 7, when it released its short list of five designs for a western highway bypass.

The road agency is specifically seeking public input on the study’s process and methodology.

UDOT project manager Craig Hancock says after this comment period, there won’t be another until after the study picks its top choice. That’s expected by spring 2023.

Hancock says UDOT has received about 200 public comments during the current phase.

The release of the preferred road design won’t mean the end of the study. Hancock says UDOT won’t totally rule out other designs at that point but will give more focus to its primary selection. The final decision could happen as early as fall 2023, according to the project website.

Each of the five options currently on the table calls for new roads south and west of Heber City. Those would 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 UDOT chooses.

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.

Last week, the Wasatch County Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing three of the options as a public comment. Those are identified as WA1,

The statement cited disruptions those routes would cause to the water ecosystem and open-space preservation efforts. It stated the study didn’t give enough consideration to the environmental impacts the two options with roads through the full length of the North Fields would cause. The North Fields are thousands of acres of open space at the entrance of the Heber Valley west of Highway 40.

Only UDOT, not local governments, will have authority to make the final decision.

After the comment period ends, UDOT will continue to accept public feedback through its website and other options currently available. Those comments will be saved and reviewed separately from those submitted during the ongoing comment period.

To visit the UDOT project website, visit hebervalleyeis.udot.utah.gov.

Ben Lasseter reports for KPCW in Wasatch County. Before moving to Heber City, Ben worked in Manti as a general assignment newspaper reporter and editor.
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