Copies of a supplemental environmental impact statement for Provo Canyon will be distributed next month to officials and groups interested in the canyon's future, Utah Department of Transportation officials said Tuesday night.
Phil Fredrickson, UDOT environmental specialist, told members of the Provo Canyon Parkway Committee during their monthly meeting that people would have 30 to 45 days to peruse the document before public hearings in August.The hearings, in Provo and Heber, will give people an opportunity to tell state officials how they feel about proposed changes on a 30-mile stretch of U.S. 189 from the mouth of the canyon to U.S. 40 south of Heber. Public comments will be incorporated in the impact statement, after which the state Transportation Commission and Federal Highway Administration will recommend one of four alternatives that will govern Provo Canyon highway development.
The alternatives were developed by the consulting firm of Howard, Needles, Tammen and Bergendorf in conjunction with UDOT and the Federal Highway Administration. The consulting firm developed the alternatives over the past year as part of the supplemental environmental impact statement.
Fredrickson said Provo Canyon Citizens Participation Committee members, appointed by the consulting firm, have recommended a multiuse alternative, which would be a four-lane divided highway designed to accommodate traffic traveling 50 mph and would depart somewhat from the highway's existing alignment.
The other development alternatives under consideration are:
-No-build, maintaining the highway as is.
-Accessibility, keep the highway at two lanes, accommodate speeds of 40 mph, emphasize access to recreation and residential areas and closely follow the existing alignment.
-Mobility, a four-lane divided highway departing from the existing alignment and favoring traffic passing through the canyon at speeds up to 60 mph.
Fredrickson said the participation committee's recommendation won't necessarily be accepted by UDOT. "That all depends on what people say at the public hearings," he said.
Dan Nelson, UDOT District 6 director, said initiation of road work in the canyon will depend on which alternative is chosen.
"We're looking at probably a year to do redesign," he said. "We'll probably lose next year's construction season because of design."
Questioned about how much project money would be spent on landscaping and canyon mitigation, Nelson said, "Vegetation will be a prime item in the design of the project."
He said a flush test on a half-mile rerouted portion of the Provo River channel near Wicks is being conducted this week. The river is being rechanneled to accommodate highway widening where the original channel is located.
Once the test is successfully completed, he said, revegetation efforts can begin along the new channel.
Tom Giles, a member of the participation committee, asked Nelson and parkway committee members to make safety their primary consideration. He said accidents in the canyon the past 15 years have killed 36 people.
"We have got to have a safe canyon," he said. "We have got to quit killing people."
Nelson predicted that completion of the Jordanelle reservoir project likely will have a significant impact on traffic volume through the canyon.
"It (ordanelle) is a recreational area that will develop very fast," he said. "It will have an impact on all roads in the area, including Provo Canyon."