What is Grand County planning for transportation projects over the next 30 years? More multiuse pathways and connectors, primarily.
The top three of 19 projects listed in the Moab and Spanish Valley 2050 Transportation Plan are multiuse pathways and connectors, signaling a clear focus for the city and county on non-vehicle transportation across the populated parts of the valley except the downtown core.
However, by far the most expensive project on the list are frontage roads along Highway 191. Over the course of two phases would cost $224 million according to estimates in the recently approved Moab and Spanish Valley 2050 Regional Transportation Plan.
The nearly quarter-billion dollar project vastly overshadows the annual budget for the city and county. It would likely instead be funded primarily by state and possibly federal funds.
The frontage roads are fifth in a list of 17 projects that Grand County, the City of Moab, San Juan County, the Utah Department of Transportation, and the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration jointly created.
The agencies agreed upon the following vision statement to organize the plan: “The Spanish Valley will have a transportation system that welcomes residents and visitors to access community amenities and recreational opportunities using a safe, efficient, and multi-modal system that moves people and goods reliably into, out of, and around the region.”
The Grand County Commission unanimously approved a resolution in support of the plan at a meeting on Tuesday, May 18. During the meeting, commissioners thanked Department of Transportation officials on the call for their efforts on the plan and responding to their feedback on it.
Notably missing from the list of projects — at the request of the county commission and Moab City Council — is the Highway 191 bypass recently cited by many downtown businesses as a need in the valley to alleviate congestion.
The bypass has long been staunchly opposed by residents and public officials whose neighborhoods would be directly impacted by the plan. The city and county both approved resolutions in recent weeks asking the Department of Transportation to remove the bypass from the list of project recommendations.
The department did so, leaving behind notes on the public outreach campaign the entities conducted that showed the bypass received more positive feedback from the public than the frontage roads but less than a regional bike network.
“I’m grateful for you all for listening to Moab and Grand County and removing the bypass,” said Grand County Commissioner Sarah Stock. “Thank you for that, and also all the work with all the stakeholders to come up with the plan.”
First priority on the project recommendation list is a relatively short pathway connecting 100 West to Kane Creek Road, across Mill Creek and Pack Creek. The initial cost estimate for the project is $630,000 and could receive backing funds from the state.
Second is an extension of the multiuse pathway along Highway 128. The extension would complete a pathway connection between the outlet of the Porcupine Rim bike trail and Lion’s Park. See related coverage.
Third is the highest ranked project on the list exceeding $1 million. It is another multiuse pathway project, this one connecting Coronado Street in Spanish Valley to Mill Creek Drive at an estimated cost of $8.51 million.
The pathway would serve as an alternative to biking or walking along Spanish Valley Drive or Highway 191. Like the other two multiuse path projects, the agencies said it would achieve three of the four main objectives set for each of the projects: Improved safety, improved quality of life, and supporting active transportation.
Congestion relief is the fourth project criteria laid out in the plan. Widening of Kane Creek Road is the first on the prioritized list to achieve this goal. The frontage roads also marked as doing so.