The Utah Department of Transportation gave a presentation to the Castle Dale City Council at a recent meeting. Their representatives, Mike Kaczorowski, Monte Aldridge and Steve Ogden, met with the council and the members of the community who were present.
Kaczorowski explained the Transportation 2030 plan. "It is a process of soliciting comments for the 30 year plan. Think 20 or 30 years ago and imagine the progress and envision what could be 20 or 30 years from now. That's what we need to have," he said.
This long range planning will be done every three years in the state and depends on public involvement. The goal of this planning is for the public to be able to move around Utah's 6,000 miles of highway in a safe and efficient manner.
Kaczorowski explained that it takes eight years for an idea about the roadways to go from the idea stage to the construction stage. The time elements involved with funding, paperwork, permits, environmental studies and actual construction mount up quickly.
Transportation 2030 involves four main criteria; safety, bridges, pavement and congestion, in that order. For the safety aspect, studies are done to determine the hazardous corridors in the state. These corridors are then identified as top priority. As far as bridges, the state has determined that preservation lowers the long term cost, so proper maintenance is crucial.
Pavement conditions are next. Good roads simply cost less. Congestion is problematic in the highly populated areas of the state where the capacity needs are greater than the available money. Although, the state does recognize that in rural areas, some congested areas are creating hazards.
Projects are moved from the long range plan to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP.) Once a project is in STIP, it usually gets completed. Drastic unforeseen increases in cost, reduction of funding and environmental findings are among the things that can stop a STIP project.
Kaczorowski stressed "because Transportation 2030 will spend several billion dollars, UDOT needs to hear from everyone. Please give us your comments." He handed out comment cards and information sheets.
When the comment period was opened to the public, some of the comments were: rutting in the pavement caused by coal trucks; number of coal trucks on city streets competing with smaller passenger cars; safety of the pedestrians; and one person mentioned that Emery County is in the top five counties for the number of fatalities of drivers under the age of 19.
Some of the suggestions were to build alternate truck routes around the cities so the smaller cars would not have to compete with the trucks, increased traffic enforcement for speeders and possibly railroad lines to eliminate the trucks from the roads.
Traffic counts and road usage statistics are done in every corridor in the state every two years. This helps the state identify and address problematic increases. Also, there are several permanent count locations set up around the state which count the numbers of road users on a continual basis.
As far as Highway 6 is concerned, $80 million has been set aside to continue the upgrades to the road from Spanish Fork to Green River. Although, it is estimated that this project needs $400 million to complete, this is considered a healthy start on improvements.
For more information or to make comments call Joni DeMille at 801-965-4129 or log onto the website at www.udot.utah.gov/progdev/trans2030. Comments may also be mailed to Utah Department of Transportation, Transportation 2030, Box 143600, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-3600.