Residents petition against a highway on Wasatch BoulevardJul 06, 2020 10:19AM ● By Cassie Goff
Salt Lake County has adopted a new general plan for the Wasatch Canyons. (Salt Lake County/Wasatch General Plan Update)
By Cassie Goff | [email protected]
Many major plans for the Wasatch Canyons (Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons) and Wasatch Boulevard have recently been published by the Salt Lake County Council and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). As many elements of these plans do not align with the Cottonwood Heights Wasatch Boulevard Master Plan, a group of Cottonwood Heights residents have started a petition.
Salt Lake County
On June 9, The Salt Lake County Council approved an updated 202-page Wasatch Canyons General Plan and was adopted on June 16.
The Salt Lake County Regional Planning Staff began drafting this plan in 2017 with input from local governmental entities, canyon visitors and property owners. In addition, the planning staff drew data from online surveys, three public hearings, interviews, work sessions, nine community events and 10 open houses.
The updated general plan will replace the 1989 Wasatch Canyons Master Plan for Parleys, Mill Creek, Big Cottonwood, associated unincorporated foothills, and Little Cottonwood.
“The preservation of this precious resource is a top priority,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “I am excited to implement the vision and strategies in this plan to protect the solitude, wildlife, scenery, water quality, and best snow on earth, that our canyons provide.”
Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT)
On June 8, UDOT released their Draft Transportation Alternatives plan for the Little Cottonwood Canyon Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Planning and drafting these alternatives began in 2018.
Three main transportation alternatives have been identified and drafted in proposed documents. The three focused alternatives are: Enhanced Bus Service, Enhanced Bus Service with Peak Period Shoulder Lanes (PPSL), and Gondola.
In addition, UDOT has published a 438-page Draft Alternatives Development and Screen Report outlining their process and the many different alternatives that were considered.
A 35-day public comment period on the drafted alternatives began on June 8 and will continue until July 10. Residents can submit comments through their website, through email, or by mail.
By next spring (2021), UDOT anticipates having a fully completed draft EIS. At that time, they will have a public hearing with a 45-day public comment period. Before 2021 ends, UDOT hopes to have a final draft ready for action in the Federal Register.
Both the Salt Lake County and UDOT plans include making changes to Wasatch Boulevard, some of which do not align with the 169-page Cottonwood Heights Wasatch Boulevard Master Plan that was published in July 2019.
For years, Cottonwood Heights residents have been fighting to make Wasatch Boulevard less of a highway and more of a residential street. Residents have been mainly concerned about increased traffic and congestion on Wasatch Boulevard and in their surrounding neighborhoods. Some of the main suggestion improvements from residents has been to not expand the boulevard and to reduce the speed limit (from 50 mph to 30 mph).
Many residents are becoming concerned with how UDOT’s plans might affect their neighborhoods, as UDOT includes mention of “high residential impact” in some of their drafted alternatives.
In addition, their plans might include demolishing some homes, as the gondola alternative states “UDOT assumes that owners of residences directly under the gondola’s airspace would need to be relocated.”
The organizers behind Save Not Pave are “Cottonwood Heights citizens called to action to preserve the residential character and natural environment. We gladly share access through our gateway to Utah’s amazing Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons with visitors and regional commuters but it must be safe, sustainable, and not heighten pollution levels,” as described on their website.
To view Salt Lake County’s Wasatch Canyons General Plan, visit: www.slco.org/ and search for Wasatch Canyons General Plan Update in the search box.
To view UDOT’s EIS visit: www.littlecottonwoodeis.udot.utah.gov. (Use this website to submit public comments as well.)
To view Cottonwood Heights Wasatch Boulevard Master Plan, visit: www.cottonwoodheights.utah.gov/ (hover over the “City Services” tab, then click on “Adopted and Special Plans”).
To visit the resident petition, visit: www.savenotpave.org/.