Utah’s transportation partners release statewide master plan for futureNov 09, 2023 02:28PM ● By Tom Haraldsen
Government leaders and transportation gurus have released an updated Unified Transportation Plan for Utah, one aimed at addressing the state’s needs through 2050. It encompasses all forms of transportation, from cars, buses and rail to bike and pedestrian paths.
The plan was a collaborative effort created over a four-year period between the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Transit Authority, the Mountainland Association of Governments, the Wasatch Front Regional Council and several metropolitan planning agencies. Its stated goal is “preserving and enhancing the quality of life in Utah” as Utah’s population grows.
“Utah’s great quality of life keeps generations of families here and attracts many new residents every year,” Governor Spencer Cox said. “Careful, collaborative transportation planning is key to ensuring safe, efficient and comfortable travel for all Utahns. Community health, economic vibrance, and livability are closely linked to travel choices—from walking and biking to riding transit to driving.”
Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson said the plan “ties things together nicely. We realize all the growth the state will have over the next 30 years and the need to start on some projects immediately.”
The trail systems along the Wasatch Front, for example, are being completed to literally connect with each other. The Parley’s Trail completion in West Valley City in early October helped link east and westside communities, and a new section of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in Davis County was planned to open on Oct. 24.
South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey, who chairs the WFRC, said “the planning process looks at the relationship between transportation, land use and economic development by thoughtfully coordinating housing, jobs and transportation connections together. City and town centers yield numerous benefits by improving access and reducing the time spent getting from point A to point B.”
Of immediate concern is the rebuild of Interstate 15 from Farmington to North Salt Lake, with plenty of questions and concerns expressed by residents in the communities affected. It’s a challenge for UDOT.
“As our state grows, we are committed to providing safe transportation choices for all people to get where they want, when they want, in the way they want,” said UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras. “Those needs are different today than they were in previous years, and in the Unified Plan, transportation partners throughout the state collaborate to identify solutions for the evolving needs that we anticipate in the years ahead.”
“Utah’s quality of life revolves around transportation choices,” said Carlton Christensen, chair of the UTA board. “UTA is proud to be part of Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan as we work closely with UDOT, regional planning partners, and municipalities to ensure every community has accessible, healthy options. Riding transit offers a less stressful way to get there.”
The plan, which is available to read online at unifiedplan.org, outlines goals for its implementation. An interactive map on the site is broken down by regions, modes of transportation and into 10-year segments, highlighting what projects are scheduled.
It estimates that households will experience almost six days of less driving per year once improvements are completed. The state’s economy will be bolstered through infrastructure investments and job growth. Utah’s GDP will grow by approximately $247 billion and over 271,000 jobs will be created. And the changes will reduce air pollution from emissions by 13%.
Over the course of the plan’s implementation, more than 4,700 miles of transportation roads and pathways will be added.
This is the latest version of a plan that’s been updated for years. Previous versions have been praised by the U.S. Department of Transportation as setting a standard for cooperation between entities with varying needs.λ