UDOT grants $10M for Moab parking
by Nathaniel Smith
The Times-Independent
Jun 08, 2018 | 964 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Utah Transportation Commission has allocated $10 million in project funding to relieve traffic congestion in the Moab area. Of that total, $7.3 million has been designated for a downtown parking structure and $2.7 million for a dispersed parking plan that will create new surface lots. The money was earmarked during a May 11 meeting of the commission.

The $10 million coming to Moab originates from the Utah Legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 277. The bill granted $100 million to the Utah Department of Transportation for the creation of transportation improvements in recreation hotspots that experience significant congestion. Using three primary criteria—increasing recreation and tourism opportunities, supporting economic development, and alleviating congestion issues—the transportation commission analyzed 16 areas around Utah. Mitigating congestion was considered first, with increasing tourism opportunities and economic development being secondary concerns. After receiving 352 public comments, the commission decided to prioritize four areas in descending order based on funding: Little Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City, Zion, Moab/Arches, and Bear Lake.

Two possible locations for the parking structure in downtown Moab are being considered. The first, on the west side of Main Street, would replace the parking lot behind It’s Sew Moab and Crystal’s Cakes and Cones. The other option, on the east side of Main, would be located where the parking lot for the Moab Information Center currently is. Both would be four levels. The west option is slightly larger, with space for 320 cars, whereas the east would be 250 stalls. Either way, a new parking structure would facilitate the removal of parking from along Main Street in the downtown area.

Parking structures would have difficulty accommodating trailers and large vehicles. To make up for that shortcoming, project plans also include an increase in dispersed parking in the downtown area. Preliminary project ideas suggest converting empty lot space behind storefront businesses along Main Street into additional parking lots. Conceptual drawings contain 370 parking spaces, approximately half of which already exist. The strategy would require collaboration among the city and local businesses and property owners, according to information on the UDOT web site.

The plan to change parking in the heart of Moab could work in conjunction with the proposed bypass corridor, which does not yet have a cost estimate available to the public. Other ideas for improving the biking and pedestrian experience and overall economic activity in downtown Moab include adding a median and bike lanes to Main Street, installing parking meters on side streets, adding recreation parking lots north and south of downtown, expanding State Route 191 to five lanes, creating a bike share, and improving Kane Creek Boulevard.

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