History of Proposed Wasatch Blvd Expansion
UDOT has announced in its November, 2020 LCC EIS Addendum that its two preferred Wasatch Blvd (WSB) alternatives will definitely be an expansion. Referred to as “Imbalanced 3-lane” and “5-lane” preferred alternatives, in a meeting with UDOT Project Manager Josh Van Jura, he disclosed that the “shoulder lanes”, where the bike lanes are located, will be used for Express Buses. This brings the true total vehicular lanes to either 6 if “Imbalanced 3-lane” or 7 lanes if “5-lane” is chosen.
This more than doubles the boulevard’s asphalt footprint!
This residential section of SR 210 is owned by the State of Utah. While it is not a Cottonwood Heights’ city street, Cottonwood Hts city possesses both jurisdiction and special expertise. We rely on Cottonwood Heights mayor and city council to represent their constituents’ clear preference for the focus to be on safety and ability for residents to get in and out of the 13 streets/neighborhoods that intersect SR 210/Wasatch Blvd between Fort Union Blvd and the High T intersection/La Caille turn-off.
Because UDOT agreed to a 35-mph speed design in 2019 (see July 2, 2019 Cottonwood Heights City Council Meeting) then reneged in 2020 indicating “that is impossible.” SNP believes that WSB was never designed for the 50MPH speed. Now, UDOT is determined to straighten the roadway to meet this high speed, inappropriate for a bedroom community and for Utah’s entrance to two of its premiere canyons.
The widening of Wasatch Blvd into a highway will mean irrevocably dividing a residential community, removal of old-growth pine trees, other natural landscape and homes to make way for more asphalt. Noise, light and air pollution through the residential stretch will be forever increased.
The UDOT LCC EIS process also reeks because of recent disclosure in their Addendum that UDOT based their Cog Rail alternative on building a base station that infringes onto an Open Space parcel that CH City and Utah Open Lands acquired in November.
Current speed limit of Wasatch Blvd through Cottonwood Heights’ residential area: 50 MPH
Current lanes: 2 with occasional median for left-hand turns.
Current width of each lane: 11′ Proposed within expansion are 6 to 7 lanes of 12′ lanes including bicycling lanes. Bicycle lanes appear in diagrams as “unprotected”. A protected “shared use path” along only one side (the east side) of Wasatch Blvd is indicated. How will pedestrians and bicyclists be able to cross over this enormous highway structure every block or so as one needs to do in a walkable residential community? They won’t. UDOT plans to build two high pedestrian brides, one on south side of Canyon Centre (south side of 7/11) and one near High-T (La Caille) intersection — over two miles apart.
The widening of Wasatch Blvd into a highway will irrevocably divide a residential community, remove old-growth pine trees, other natural landscape and homes to make way for more asphalt. Noise, light and air pollution through the residential stretch will be forever increased.
Chronological listing of developments:
April, 2019: UDOT’s inital proposal based on alleviating ski traffic, was met by unanimous push back by local residents along the Wasatch Front who expressed that widening the 2-mile stretch which feeds into a two, maximum 3-lane, Little Cottonwood Canyon Highway would create a worse bottleneck of traffic at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon than what currently plagues skiers, locals and commuters during peak ski season.
June, 2019: Over 800 local citizens signed Petition addressing concern over UDOT’s intended expansion project. It was presented to both Cottonwood Heights City Council and to John Thomas, Project Manager/UDOT.
July, 2019: Cottonwood Heights City Council approves a Cottonwood Heights Wasatch Blvd Master Plan which includes a diagram suggesting 4 – 11′ wide “multi-function” lanes plus pedestrian and bicycle lanes for the 2-mile stretch.
October, 2019: WFRC announces their Wasatch Choice 2050 plan for Salt Lake Valley. They suggest 5-lanes for Cottonwood Heights section of SR 210/Wasatch Blvd.
November 2019: UDOT LCC EIS November 2020 Addendum Report does not address the danger factors of 50MPH speeds through this residential community. UDOT is analyzing how many houses to remove by eminent domain to accomplish this. Danger factors for fatalities for drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians when speeds are more than 30MPH through a residential community are well documented. Air pollution from additional asphalting, fresh dust/small particulate matter kicked up by heightened vehicle numbers traveling high speeds, nor the long-term maintenance costs of a widened road were included in UDOT’s EIS.
Save Not Pave – Wasatch FB comes out with a critique of the Revised Little Cottonwood EIS.
The needs of school children getting to their schools and parks has not been examined.
May 5, 2020: UDOT announces yet another newly revised “Little Cottonwood Canyon EIS November 2020 Addendum Report”. Disturbing elements of the new Environmental Impact Statement: The lower 35MPH speed limit verbally promised by the previous Little Cottonwood EIS Project Manager John Thomas in 2019 is no longer included as an option.
June 8, 2020: UDOT indicates that they have examined their options and have put forth their preferred alternatives. Announcement of their finalized selected plan “will occur in 2021 with building to commence thereafter.”
Get links to above referenced documents and other resources.