The Utah Transportation Commission on June 25 approved reallocating $10 million in Recreation Hotspot Funding, previously dedicated to a downtown Moab parking structure, to three transportation projects: Dispersed parking around the city, a pilot transit program, and a shared use pathway connecting downtown Moab to Spanish Valley.

The three projects, proposed jointly by the Moab City Council and Grand County Commission, are designed to relieve traffic congestion in the vicinity of Arches National Park — the original intent of the funds allocated by the Utah Legislature in 2017.

Of the $10 million, $5.7 million will go toward dispersed parking. That will involve adding parking spots near Emma Boulevard, north of the downtown area. That money will also reconfigure side roads off Main Street to add median parking, similar to the configuration between Moab City Hall and the Center Street Ball Fields.

Another $2.7 million of the hotspot funding will go toward construction of a shared use pathway, which will add to the end of the Mill Creek Pathway to go further south into Spanish Valley. Planned alignments show the pathway ending near Arroyo Road, the road that connects Highway 191 to the trailhead for Hidden Valley and Pipe Dream.

The final $1.6 million will go toward a pilot transit program for the valley, which in its first years will amount to a publicly-administered taxi program. Referred to sometimes as microtransit, the program will allow locals to hail a free ride from anywhere to anywhere in the service area, which will extend from the river to near Meador Drive.

The first year of the microtransit program will serve as a data collection period, telling officials where the public most often begins and ends their trips. In years two and three, a fixed bus route will be established along Highway 191, and decisions about where to place bus stops will be informed by the first year of data collection.

The projects come after initial proposals in 2019 for the hotspot funding to be used for a parking structure near the center of downtown. Karen Guzman-Newton, who sat on the local committee that came up with the alternative projects, said she was “ecstatic” to receive the approval of the state.

“I cannot tell you how excited I am that we get to execute three really fabulous projects that hit so many different aspects of reducing congestion and offering safer opportunities for pedestrians and cyclists,” Guzman-Newton said after the commission’s unanimous vote of approval.