UDOT to assess bicycle needs at Oct. 14 open house

The Utah Department of Transportation is holding an open house to discuss a statewide Bicycle Corridor Plan. The open house will be held Oct. 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Grand Center, 182 North 500 West, in Moab. UDOT officials will present project background information as well as take comments on existing and potential bicycle corridors.

With the new bicycle/pedestrian bridge sitting at the hub of Grand County’s North Moab Recreation Area, Moab is poised for corridor development. That “hub” is just waiting for spokes to be able to receive riders from the south and deliver them north or east along trails that would allow riders to stay off U.S. 191.

The next phase of the state Route 128 bike path, which would take riders east, is the most complicated, as it will require a path to be cantilevered out over the Colorado River. The section, that would link an already-completed, mile-long portion of trail upriver by the Goose Island campground, is expected to cost as much as $3 million, UDOT officials have said.

However, the $1 million already raised for that phase of the trail is being reprioritized. First, some money was committed to resurfacing the route from Courthouse Wash to Gemini Bridges, along the old Moab highway. Another chunk of funding was removed at the Oct. 7 Grand County Council meeting, where the council voted to approve a stretch of path from Gemini Bridges to state Route 313. That bike path is expected to cost about $450,000 due to a low-water crossing that will require additional work to accomodate the trail.

With the approval of funding to state Route 313, Grand County will have a route for bicycles from the Courthouse Wash parking area to state Route 313. That means easier access for road rides out to Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands. When the new Colorado River Bridge and the north end of Main Street are complete, the plan put forth by UDOT is to complete routes from town to the bicycle/pedestrian bridge and beyond.

Ensuring that the bridge won’t be left stranded could be a good starting point for a public conversation about local bicycle corridor needs. Connecting downtown Moab to the Lion’s Park hub will also not only provide recreational opportunities, but it will offer transportation options for employees of Moab’s north end businesses, including Arches National Park.

Knowing that UDOT is already aware of the north end project – the department was instrumental in securing funding for the bridge – members of Trail Mix, Grand County’s non-motorized trail committee, have suggested bringing a commuter route out through Spanish Valley to the table at the open house.

With north end routes in the works, and a solid center section in the form of the Mill Creek Parkway, a south end route would be the next logical step, many believe. If that can be addressed, the result could be a definitive bicycle path that allows riders to travel throughout the community while bypassing most busy highways.

ByBy Ron Georg

contributing writer