During the second public open house on June 27, the Utah Department of Transportation answered questions and received more public comments about their plan to widen North Main Street. The project will expand North Main Street, a section of U.S. Highway 191, to four lanes with a center two-way left turn lane in the center where possible. It aims to reduce traffic congestion by eliminating the bottlenecks where two lanes merge into one. The project ranges from the intersection at 400 North—where the road narrows in front of the Hampton Inn—to the junction with Scenic Route 128 at the Colorado River bridge.
UDOT Project Manager Troy Torgersen said the design process is at about 50 percent. They plan to begin construction sometime between late fall 2018 and early winter 2019. With that timeframe, they expect to complete the project in the fall of 2019.
After the first open house in February, some changes to the plan were made. According to Kevin Kitchen, the UDOT region four communications manager, the most significant alteration was the addition of a sidewalk on the west side of the road. Other updates include putting in a crosswalk beneath the stop light at the SR-128 junction and extending the paved bike path from Lions Park to a point near the Moab Rock Shop. They also added an access point on the west side of the road across from the new terminus of the bike path, so the city can eventually connect 100 West or the Mill Creek Parkway to the north side of Main Street.
Kitchen said attendance at the second open house was lower than at the first, but they still received a variety of comments, both positive and negative. Kitchen claimed a couple local business owners expressed concerns over the elimination of on-street parking in the plan. With the roadway expanded to four lanes, plus a turning lane and a six-foot shoulder that leaves room for bikes, there was no longer any room for parking. Kitchen noted UDOT is pleased that they “won’t have to remove any buildings” to widen the road.
Kitchen said they received several positive comments about the addition of a sidewalk on the road’s west side. Many people were wondering how the project would impact pedestrians crossing the highway. Currently, the plan has crosswalks at the stoplights at 500 West and SR-128. Torgersen said crosswalks at 400 North and the new access point are also being considered but may be left up to the city. There were also questions about how the new crossing at SR-128 will affect signal timing, but that answer is still uncertain.
Another topic repeatedly brought up by residents was the question of speed limits in the project area. No decision has been made yet, but Kitchen said UDOT “will conduct a traffic study to determine if the speed limit should be lowered.”
Some people asked what hours of the day the construction will take place. “This project’s specifications are not to that level of detail yet,” said Kitchen. “Specific days and hours are usually determined by the contractor after the bid is awarded.”
A major part of the project will be the construction of a storm drainage system that will convey run-off from Stewart Canyon, the highway and adjacent areas to a retention pond located west of the intersection of 500 West and Highway 191. The system is designed to handle flooding from a 50-year storm event.
UDOT has a third public open house tentatively planned for late August or early September. The focus of the next open house will be discussing the environmental assessment of the plan.