Bypass steals thunder of Downtown Plan
by Rose Egelhoff
The Times-Independent
May 31, 2018 | 2968 views | 0 0 comments | 104 104 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thomas McMurtry of Avenue Consultants discusses with concerned residents a proposed downtown map. Photo by Rose Egelhoff
Thomas McMurtry of Avenue Consultants discusses with concerned residents a proposed downtown map. Photo by Rose Egelhoff

At the May 23 open house for the Moab Downtown Plan, residents showed up with a variety of concerns. One major worry: a bypass.

Ben Levenger is the president of Downtown Development Services, the firm contracted to develop the downtown plan. “There were some concerns about the bypass and what that entails and how it’s going to affect everything, but we had to reiterate quite a few times that our study is not the bypass,” Levenger said.

Those concerns stood in contrast to the open house presentation. Levenger and his colleague Thomas McMurtry of Avenue Consultants presented the results of a survey and said that they had received overwhelmingly positive comments on the idea of a bypass. One possible route would utilize Kane Creek Boulevard from the junction of 500 West to the river. However, as Levenger noted, the bypass was outside of their planning purview.

Other results of the survey included the desire for bicycles to be kept out of traffic lanes, increased pedestrian safety and the need for more code enforcement. Interestingly, most survey respondents said that they had lived in Moab for more than 20 years.

McMurtry discussed proposed changes to transportation infrastructure, including the addition of bicycle corridors on 100 East and 100 West. Bicycle lanes were specifically not recommended on Main Street, due to the input the planners received on the survey.

To increase pedestrian safety, Downtown Development Services proposed curb bulbouts and median strips that would make the distance for pedestrian crossings shorter. However, after receiving mixed feedback on the median idea at the May 23 meeting, Levenger said the planners will look further into the issue.

“People were both in favor and against medians but were definitely in favor of pedestrian safety ... that is one of the biggest items,” Levenger said. “We’re going to ask a few more questions to try and figure out why people are more in favor of them or not in favor of them, and try and find a way to make sure it is appropriately put out there.”

Another issue of concern was the architectural integrity of Moab. The planners suggested the implementation of facade guidelines for the Main Street corridor and the possible creation of a facade and signage assistance fund to help businesses come into line with architectural guidelines.

Levenger said the feedback on that idea was not favorable. Instead, the audience wanted to allow buildings to be “independent so it’s not a homogenous feel when you drive down [Main Street],” Levenger said.

“What we’re going to do is make some edits to the proposed facade principles and make sure that everybody can keep their own independent structures and everything looks different so they can keep their own feel for the building, but make sure that codes are better enforced so that way we have a more uniform city. So that there’s no deteriorated buildings, no other unkempt spaces,” Levenger said.

The open house was meant to be a sounding board on their initial findings. Now the planners have 30 to 45 days to produce a draft report for the Moab City Council. The council will respond and based on that feedback, the planners will finalize the Downtown Plan, Levenger said. They hope to present the final version by early July, at which time the city council will consider adopting the plan.

Though the open house has passed, the survey remains open for citizens who would like to give feedback on the Downtown Plan. The project website has a link to the survey. Visit for more information.

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