The latest draft of a supplemental environmental impact statement that will govern Provo Canyon Highway's future development doesn't adequately address the canyon's tourist and recreational potential, nor does it adequately deal with mitigation measures, according to the Provo Canyon Parkway Committee.
Committee members, meeting Thursday night, fine-tuned recommendations they will present next week in Heber and Provo during public hearings on the impact statement. The parkway committee was formed last fall to develop a consensus on multiple use of the canyon in coordination with U.S. 189 improvements from the mouth of Provo Canyon to U.S. 40 south of Heber.Public input gathered by the committee has centered on such issues as safety, recreation and tourism, fish and wildlife, canyon aesthetics and revegetation, parkway development and tri-county railroad development.
Alternatives for improving U.S. 189, as outlined by the impact statement, are:
-No-build, which would maintain the highway as it is. Safety improvements would be limited to signing and striping.
-Accessibility, which would concentrate on addressing the road-access needs of those living in the canyon. A minimum two-lane highway would accommodate traffic speeds of 40 mph.
-Mobility, which would give precedence to traffic passing through the canyon with a four-lane divided highway designed for speeds up to 60 mph.
-Multiuse, which would be a compromise addressing local access and arterial-roadway functions. This alternative would be a four-lane divided highway designed to accommodate traffic traveling 50 mph.
"The multiuse alternative has four lanes, but is uncomfortably similar to the mobility option in size and impact," says a position paper drawn up by the parkway committee in response to the impact statement. "The accessibility alternative addresses all of the (public-input) criteria except that it does not provide four lanes.
"The committee feels that the best road design would combine the safety of the multiuse alternative with the environmental and recreational sensitivity of the accessibility alternative. In other words, we believe that the compromise envisioned by the public last summer lies somewhere in between the multiuse and the accessibility alternatives, without compromising safety."
Parkway committee members said they are alarmed the impact statement - developed by a consulting firm in conjunction with the Utah Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration - disregards much of the public input presented by the committee.
"The supplemental environmental impact statement does not even mention economic impact to Utah County from the canyon as a recreational/
tourist asset," the response says.
A second concern is that the study does not sufficiently tie down mitigation for the damage to canyon vegetation and wildlife and fishery habitats."
In addition, committee members are concerned about bikers and pedestrians using road shoulders.
The committee has requested a separate bicycle/pedestrian trail.