Legislators wrangle over Jordan River trail tunnel project

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 8 2012 1:56 p.m. MST

On the Jordan River Parkway, a hiker returns to Redwood Trailhead Park.

Steve Baker, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

SALT LAKE CITY — A proposal to build a $1 million tunnel under 9000 South in West Jordan as part of the Jordan River trail system got held up Tuesday in a Utah Senate committee.

The tunnel would eliminate "one of the last bottlenecks" along the trail between 200 South in Salt Lake City and 14600 South in Bluffdale, said Laura Hanson, executive director of the Jordan River Commission.

"This is a project of regional significance … something beneficial to the entire Wasatch Front," Hanson told the Senate Workforce Services Committee.

But Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said he opposed spending highway funds on a project that is not a roadway.

The bill seeks to redistribute $4.5 million left over from $68.5 million set aside in 2010 for various state highway construction projects in Salt Lake County.

"Everyone's seeing this (money) as their own little way to fund their special projects," Waddoups said. "I'm going to be resisting this bill if they don't take that section out."

The tunnel project would also attract tourism and development in the area, Hanson said.

She told the committee that in November, the Jordan River Parkway Trail was listed in the U.S. Department of Interior's "America's Great Outdoors Report" as one of 100 of the "most promising projects" to increase access to outdoor spaces.

The cities of Sandy and Bluffdale have committed to complete their sections of the trail with completion of the tunnel project, Hanson said.

SB164, would also earmark $2.5 million in unspent funds for a project to ease traffic flow onto Bangerter Highway between state Route 201 and Lake Park Boulevard, and $1 million to improve the Route 201 frontage road at 7200 West.

That project would help prepare for an anticipated industrial park in the area, said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton.

Both projects are in West Valley City, and would come from money left over from work on the I-215 interchange between 3500 South and 3800 South, according to the bill.

The proposal would depend on the availability of actual project savings as identified by the Utah Department of Transportation, according to the bill.

The committee voted to hold off on any action until conflicts are worked out.

E-mail: lbrubaker@desnews.com

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