Bypass comes one step closer to reality

The Utah Department of Transportation has reported the results from its conceptual study of a Moab bypass, Grand County Council Vice Chair Curtis Wells reported at the June 5 meeting of the County Council. UDOT had allocated $150 thousand for the study, which was contracted to the transportation consultant firm Fehr and Peers.

The study found that 18-wheeler traffic accounted for approximately 30 percent of volume on Highway 191. Another 30 percent was cut-through traffic, making more than 60 percent of traffic non-local and non-tourism-related.

The study also made rough estimates for the cost of a bypass, which could range from $75 million to more than $200 million.

“If a Bypass Project is placed on the state priority list, this thing is probably anywhere from 5 to 7 to 10 years down the line. I do think it’s good that the state is acknowledging that we have congestion issues directly related to increases in tourism volumes in our small community and that they’ve played a heavy role in stimulating that growth,” Wells said.

UDOT has spent billions of dollars on projects in the Wasatch Front, Wells said, “so to have a conceptual study on a project of this magnitude in a fifth-class county speaks volumes of the energy and determination of our work locally and that the State of Utah is being receptive.”

Wells said, “The next steps are for the city and county to do some planning, engage with the public, and hopefully incorporate a bypass into our local transportation plans. At that point, it’s in UDOT’s hands. So we’ll have updates as that develops, if it does develop,” Wells said.