On Friday, May 11, the Utah Transportation Commission approved $10 million in funding for a new parking structure, development of dispersed parking and Main Street improvements in Moab.
The money comes from a $100 million pot of recreational hotspot funding set aside by the Utah Legislature in 2017 through Senate Bill 277 for transportation improvements in areas “that have a significant economic development impact associated with recreation and tourism within the state, and address significant needs for congestion mitigation.”
“I have to give Curtis Wells credit for pointing us in the right directions right out of the gates here about a year ago,” Moab City Manager David Everitt told the Grand County Council on May 15. “I was totally skeptical, frankly going into that ... everything I had heard was ... we’re not going to get any of it ... [Wells] got us together ... and we tried and I think it’s been a really collaborative effort of the county and city working with UDOT.”
Said Wells, “It’s not every day that we have an opportunity to secure funding like this, and I’m proud of our county and city for working so effectively with UDOT’s team to develop a successful proposal. The legislature recognized that tourism-based communities have unique challenges, and our community will benefit directly from [the Utah Department of Transportation’s allocation of hotspot funds.”
Wells said that securing the funding was an exciting accomplishment for his first year in office and gave Everitt credit for the work he has put into the effort.
“This is … something that I’m proud of,” Wells said. “This funding is important and these projects are important because I feel like these are at the core of our biggest issues, which are congestion, friction among travelers and people on the road. This is going to make Moab a safer place to live, a quieter place to live. I think our economy and community are deserving of an enjoyable and frictionless Main Street environment. I think this is good for Main Street business. This is a win for the community and local government … we’re moving and shaking.”
Everitt said UTC gave Moab some flexibility in where and how parking will be developed. Possible parking structure locations include the Moab Information Center parking lot and the city-owned lot on West Center Street, next to Arches Thai.
Meanwhile, Wells said that UDOT continues to study the possibility of a highway bypass for Moab. Wells said that it “says a lot” that UDOT is doing the bypass analysis on their own dime.
“A third of our traffic is semi traffic … when approximately 30 to 40 percent of that remaining two-thirds is non-tourism and non-local traffic, I think bypassing that traffic around downtown is a project that has to happen and it’s the only direct solution” Wells said.