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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Wasatch Front Regional Council envisions a future of safe roadwaysfor all modes of transportation

Sep 07, 2023 01:57PM ● By Cassie Goff

The East Salt Lake Valley geographical region for the WFRC Comprehensive Safety Action Plan will include Alta, Brighton, Cottonwood Heights, Holladay, Millcreek, Sandy, White City Township and Emigration Township. (Photo courtesy of the Wasatch Front Regional Council)

The Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC) presented their plans for drafting the upcoming Comprehensive Safety Action Plan to the Cottonwood Heights City Council on Aug. 1 during the work session meeting at 4 p.m. 

The igniting factor for the creation of this comprehensive plan was the federal Safe Streets for All (SS4A) program. The intent of the SS4A program is to reduce roadway fatalities and serious injuries by addressing safety challenges. All modes of transportation utilizing roadways are discussed under the umbrella of this program including transit, bicycles and scooters, and pedestrians. 

“Safety in transportation is absolutely critical; perhaps that’s an obvious thing to say. We have seen regional and statewide casualties grow in the past few years,” said WFRC Executive Director Andrew Gruber. 

The SS4A discretionary program was established under a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law where $5 billion was appropriated to be funded over five years from 2022-26. This federal funding is only available to municipalities and city governments; it’s not available to be collected by the state. 

In order for municipalities to be eligible to receive one of the two types of grants offered by the SS4A program (planning and demonstration, and implementation), there has to be a safety action plan in place. Several local municipalities asked WFRC to take the lead in creating the required Safety Action Plan for the region, which would allow all regional municipalities included in the plan eligible to apply for the SS4A grants in 2024.

Eleven different geographic areas will be focused on within the Comprehensive Safety Action Plan. The East Salt Lake Valley area will be focusing on the cities of Alta, Brighton, Cottonwood Heights, Holladay, Millcreek and Sandy; along with the townships of White City and Emigration. 

“The purpose is to develop a holistic strategy to reduce roadway fatalities and serious injuries in the Wasatch Front region on locally-owned cities, towns, counties, roadways,” said Director of Short-Range Planning Wayne Bennion.

The WFRC is now tackling the Comprehensive Safety Action Plan in three main components. They are currently analyzing safety needs throughout the region through various data collection. After which, they will identify high-risk locations and other factors currently contributing to serious injuries. Lasty, strategies to address those high-risk locations and factors that contribute to crashes will be prioritized. The Comprehensive Safety Action Plan’s goal is to draft a plan for transportation safety throughout the greater Wasatch Front region.

“But you don’t do transportation in isolation,” Gruber said. “You have to think about how housing, job creation, and parks and public spaces all interact together.”

WFRC will host Planning Team meetings with stakeholders from the regional study area including Salt Lake County, Davis County, Weber County, Morgan County, Tooele County, and the Box Elder metropolitan planning area. 

“We can’t meet the travel demands just by driving. People have to feel comfortable getting out of their cars for walking and biking. If there’s not a safe system to use, they aren’t going to do it. So much of that gets at the design of the transportation system and leads to the safety outcomes,” Bennion said. 

WFRC is hoping to have as much engagement as possible with an online survey and website opening up late this summer. By later winter/early spring, they hope to have identified the recommend project types so each community can start thinking about the projects they will want to submit to the federal SS4A program. They plan to wrap up the entire Comprehensive Safety Action Plan by next June. 

According to Gruber, the WFRC plans holistically beyond any one city or county boundary in order to match the unparalleled resident life that can be preserved and enhanced for generations to come. 

The WFRC is working to help various local cities, municipalities, counties, and UTA develop plans to roll into the Utah Unified Transportation Plan.

“Our role is to help give voice to the local communities in the larger transportation process,” Gruber said.  

The WFRC also helps municipalities by providing funding for transportation projects, technical assistance with trail planning and other project planning. 

“We love the opportunity to help you accomplish your goals within a broader regional context,” Bennion said. 

The WFRC board is made up of government officials from various local entities. “We would never presume to try to tell you what to try to do within your community. Your job is to know your community better than anyone else does,” Gruber told the council. “We want to help you be successful in making safety improvements within your community.” λ