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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Residents helping to shape the future of Wasatch Boulevard

Nov 11, 2019 02:53PM ● By Cassie Goff

UDOT is looking to improve this specific section of Wasatch Boulevard. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

The future of Wasatch Boulevard has been a primary concern for residents of Cottonwood Heights, especially those in District 4, for years. The stretch of road connecting I-215 to both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon has become more crowded over the years, especially on ski days. The corridor has been of concern for the Cottonwood Heights City Council, City of Holladay, Sandy City, Salt Lake County, State of Utah, Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), as well. While every stakeholder is in agreement that the future of Wasatch Boulevard needs to be considered seriously, there has been some disagreement over what that should look like. Realizing that conflict, a handful of these entities have been working on a compromise. 

A long-range master plan study is underway to help inform the Wasatch Boulevard Master Plan, which will be the guiding document for construction over the next two to three years. The study has been ongoing under UDOT leadership and was paid for by a $85,000 grant awarded from the Wasatch Front Regional Council. 

Part of that study has been collecting resident feedback. On Sept. 11, outside consultants hosted a three-hour charrette: a public workshop where attendees were asked to participate in a series of guided tasks. 

After the charette, and meeting with each of the individual stakeholders, a design team put together multiple options to consider for the corridor. One of the final opportunities for resident feedback occurred during an open house held on Oct. 14, 15, and 16 at Cottonwood Heights City Hall (2277 Bengal Boulevard). 

From previous resident feedback, UDOT’s Project Manager John Thomas knows Cottonwood Heights residents want the future Wasatch Boulevard Master Plan to have a “rustic mountain aesthetic” inspired by the local outdoor scenery. However, Thomas wanted residents to think more about what that might look like in detail. 

During the three-day workshop, residents were asked to provide feedback on design elements for trees (should they be canopy or columnar?), landscaping (should they incorporate perennials or should it be Xeriscaped?), lighting (traditional lighting, bollard style lighting or top hat lighting?), additional landscaping elements (should they incorporate flowerpots, flags, banners and/or holiday decorations?), street furniture (metal or composite benches?), bike lanes, bike racks, public art, entrance features, signage and trailhead branding. 

Residents were encouraged to survey these different options and provide feedback on what they liked and what they didn’t like (by placing green or red stickers on printed out maps and plans). Each day, the planning teams incorporated resident feedback, refining the options for residents to provide feedback on. With the constant revisions, each day of the three-day workshop had different information available. 

“This is a really groundbreaking project for UDOT. There’s no other project like this in the state,” Thomas said. Most of the details they are trying to narrow in on now wouldn’t usually be considered until much later in the planning process, or even until after construction had begun. In addition, it has been rare for UDOT to seek collaboration in such an expansive manner. 

With so many stakeholders being involved in the planning process, Thomas hopes the common values for the corridor will be uncovered and built upon. By the end of the planning process, the goal is to have both local residents and regional stakeholders confident with the final plan. 

Cottonwood Heights hopes to have a polished master plan that will guide the future evolution of Wasatch Boulevard and the communities it services.

Now, resident and stakeholder feedback will be assessed and incorporated by the planning and design teams. By January, they hope to have a complete draft of the long-range plan.