Wasatch Boulevard

History of Proposed Wasatch Blvd Expansion

UDOT has announced in its November LCC EIS Addendum that its two preferred WSB alternatives will definitely be an expansion. Referred to as “Imbalanced 3-lane” and “5-lane” preferred alternatives, SNP’s investigative work interviewing UDOT Project Manager Josh Van Jura has disclosed that UDOT plans to utilize shoulder lanes for Express Buses, thus bringing the true total vehicular lanes to either 5 or 7 lanes. If you can imagine, by the time you add bicycle and pedestrian pathways, this more than doubles the blvd’s asphalt footprint!

This residential section 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, which by NEPA policy, makes the city worthy of what is called “Cooperating Agency” status. As a Cooperating Agency, CH would have regular meetings with UDOT and have recourse in the event UDOT’s ROD (Record of Decision scheduled for December, 2021) is unsatisfactory to the health and safety of residents. 

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”, we believe 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 the Open Space parcel that CH City and Utah Open Lands recently acquired.

Therefore, CH is not in control and only acting in a “Participating Agency” capacity with UDOT. Other influencing entities are the Utah Legislature and its Transportation Committee, WFRC (Wasatch Front Regional Council) which is a consortium of municipalities, UTA, UDOT and the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office. Strangely, the CWC is not a Cooperating nor a Participating Agency although they are funded by affected cities, SLCO and other municipalities to finalize a Mountainland Transportation System that according to their executive director, Ralph Becker, will be a regional, year-round system for all users including locals and commuters reducing vehicles in canyons and Wasatch Front connecting to Wasatch Back (Park City area) entirely transit in order to protect environment and water sheds.

Current speed limit of Wasatch Blvd through Cottonwood Heights’ residential area:  50 MPH

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”, we believe 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.

Current lanes:  2 with occasional left-hand turning lanes.   Current width of each lane: 11′    Proposed within expansion are 5 to 7 lanes of 11′ lanes including bicycling dedicated lanes. Bicycle lanes appear in diagrams as “unprotected”. A protected “shared use path” along only one side of the road 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?

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.

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 currently during peak ski season. UDOT held a public Open House in which

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 Wasatch Blvd.

November, 2019: UDOT’s Revised Little Cottonwood EIS does not address the danger factors of 50MPH speeds through this resdidential community. UDOT is analyzing how many houses to remove by imminent 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 heightended vehicle numbers travelling a high speeds, nor the long-term mainenance costs of a widened road were not 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”.  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 has 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.

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