Provided by: Fehr & Peers Transporation Consultants

PROVO — Utah Valley residents got an eyeful.

And then they gave an earful of feedback to Utah transportation officials earlier this week on proposals for massive roadway overhauls and transit implementations in the Provo/Orem area that will service an estimated 17,000 boardings per day by 2030.

A group of transportation associations laid out their proposals for improvements of local transit and roadways Thursday night at Provo City Library at Academy Square, 550 N. University Ave. Although they sent out 45,000 mailers inviting public comment and scrutiny, only about 100 people showed up to give input.

Brigham Young University students Mike Merkley of Vernal and Steven Hall of St. George ran their eyes over maps of several alternative proposals of future transit lines on — or near — University Avenue and University Parkway. The two are civil engineering majors and frequent bus riders, and they gave their nod of approval.

"If people use it, it'll reduce congestion on a lot of these corridors," Merkley said.

"And pollution," Hall added.

Utah Transit Authority, the Mountainland Association of Governments and other transportation authorities are preparing an Alternatives Analysis/Environmental Impact Statement, due out by the end of 2008, for the proposed transit and roadway improvements in Utah County.

According to information provided by Mountainland Association of Governments, some potential improvements include utilizing a bus rapid transit system that would run along its own lanes with stops at canopied areas to reduce commuters' travel time, similar to the light rail system in Salt Lake City. The cost of construction and maintenance for the entire project—including roadways and transit lines— until 2030 is projected around $16.1 billion.

Merkley said the current transit system is in dire need of an overhaul.

"Those (buses) are slow and unreliable," he said.

Merkley and Hall also pointed out the proposed bus rapid transit will implement a card system so riders won't stall the bus while they scramble for exact change.

"I've done it myself," Hall said.

A bus rapid transit is just one option, said Joint Project Manager Chad Eccles — a light rail system could be another possible solution.

But that would be ornamental rather than essential, said Brandon Plewe, a BYU professor of geography with a specialty in mapping and urban planning. He thinks light rail would be a mere status symbol to show other communities "we're big time now."

"The Provo/Orem area is just not dense enough," he said.

The proposals look good on paper, Plewe added, but there will be challenges turning these concepts into a reality. For one thing, he said, University Avenue is currently too narrow for an exclusive bus lane, and University Parkway is too wide.

"University Parkway is six lanes and 45 miles per hour," he said. "You're not going to get a lot of pedestrians crossing that to get to a bus stop."

Plewe said he's also upset so few people are taking an chance to be involved in the project while it's still in early stages. He recounted the plight of Lehi residents who expressed discontent earlier this fall over the placement of a section of Mountain View Corridor in the project's Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

"They should have been doing that three years ago," he said.

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