Eagle Mountain’s proposed Transportation Master Plan will be receiving some additional research and consideration prior to final approval.
During their Sept. 20 meeting, the Eagle Mountain City Council moved to table the Transportation Master Plan after concerns were voiced both by residents and council members on several key aspects of the plan.
Once adopted, The Transportation Master Plan is anticipated to greatly diminish the effects growth will have on City infrastructure over the next 30 years.
Certain changes are necessary to maintain acceptable levels of service and accessibility as the population continues to increase.
Potential interference with wildlife corridor
The Transportation Master Plan returned for further consideration as a discussion item at the Oct. 18 City Council meeting.
Once adopted the plan will help prevent such congestion by proposing to expand and lengthen roadways to provide more access points in and out of Eagle Mountain.
It will also aid in planning for an anticipated freeway that UDOT has proposed to construct through the Cedar Valley within the next 10-20 years.
The introduction of a freeway sparked some concern from both council members and residents who feared it may impede the existing Mule Deer Migration Corridor in Eagle Mountain.
City engineers had previously identified potential problem areas where the proposed freeway may conflict with the wildlife corridor but did not give specifics for how the conflicts would be mitigated.
Bettina Cameron, president of the Eagle Mountain Nature and Wildlife Alliance, shared her concerns over the lack of specificity surrounding the wildlife conflict mitigation procedures, saying there is only one statement in the plan that addresses what should be done if a road crosses the wildlife corridor.
“We really are hoping that you at least table the parts that deal with the wildlife corridor,” said Cameron. “What we’re asking is at least give us the opportunity, and Mr. [Todd] Black [City Wildlife Biologist], to work with the City to put some wording in here to toughen up some of these mitigation efforts.”
According to Cameron, Eagle Mountain’s wildlife is what makes Eagle Mountain unique and keeps residents in the area.
“Failure to act now and protect why many residents live in Eagle Mountain will lead to a story of tragedy,” said Cameron. “The wildlife corridor guarantees there will always be wildlife, open spaces, and expansive views. You help ensure these wonderful qualities of our city aren’t loved to death.”
Cameron’s plea on behalf of the Cedar Valley’s wildlife inspired another resident, Jordan Maddox, who was attending the meeting for a different agenda item.
“I am somebody who’s bought into the North Ranch neighborhood,” Maddox said. “The appeal for us was to get some of the larger lots, to kind of have that wildlife feel, the rural feel, the space feel. I am somebody who loves the wildlife. …So it would be concerning to me as a citizen who lives in that neighborhood to feel like that freeway is just going to be dead-heading right in the space that…is a lot of the really cool things that makes Eagle Mountain so special.”
Maddox says she would love to see the future freeway moved to the west, even if it is farther out of the way.
Implementation of bike lanes
The City Council addressed comments from Councilmember Colby Curtis, who expressed concerns over whether bike lanes were an efficient use of valuable road space.
“Two percent of people use bikes and transit in Utah county, and I can’t justify spending large amounts of transportation funding on those facilities that nobody uses,” said Curtis.
Under the proposal of the TMP, bike lanes are designed to improve safety, relieve congestion, increase the visual and economic appeal of the city, and provide better quality of life by addressing health and environmental problems.
Curtis, noting this section of the plan, said he believes implementing bike lanes will discourage residents from using their automobiles in an attempt to turn Eagle Mountain into a more metropolitan area.
“The idea that we’re trying to discourage cars in favor of bicycles and other alternative methods just doesn’t sit well with me,” said Curtis.
Not all council members agreed.
Councilmember Donna Burnham was in favor of the bike lanes, noting that implementing bike lanes would help the City receive additional funding for road projects.
“I would prefer to leave the bike lanes if it helps us get the funding for those roads,” she said.
Steve Mumford, Community Development Director for the City, addressed several of the points raised by council.
“If there’s an emergency lane and the addition of a bike lane would help us obtain funding from MAG [Mountainland Association of Governments], then how do we want that to look on the roadway?” says Mumford.
Councilmember Curtis again expressed concerns that bike lanes would deprive motorists of valuable parking spaces and limit access for automobiles.
Of a wider bike lane, Mumford says there are several key considerations.
“It’s just as wide as an emergency lane, but it’s a safer bike lane,” says Mumford. “It doesn’t prohibit cars from parking there, it just provides a safer way for the bikes to travel.”
During last Tuesday’s discussion, the City Council noted that bike lanes would not lessen the morning commute many residents face when traveling to work. The average Eagle Mountain resident has a commute of almost 35 minutes one-way, according to a study by BestPlaces.
To help cut down on travel times, Councilmember Curtis explained that he would rather see the extra space on roadways used to create an additional lane of traffic.
“If we get even a hundred bikes a day – which we don’t – how many cars per day would we get on that same amount of asphalt?” he said.
Councilmember Burnham again expressed support for the bike lanes, wanting to avoid more construction should a more urgent need for bike lanes arise in the future.
“[With] those main thoroughfares, we need to have that consideration,” she said.
Tabling the Transportation Master Plan
Noting the concerns expressed by the City Council and residents about interference with the wildlife corridor, bike lanes, and subsequent updates to city code, Council unanimously voted to table the Transportation Master Plan for consideration a later date.
The plan will be revised following research to address the Council’s concerns and will be presented to Council again at a future City Council meeting.
Eagle Mountain City will keep residents up-to-date concerning the Transportation Master Plan and when it will again be listed on City Council meeting agendas. Residents who have questions, comments or concerns are encouraged to attend City Council meetings for public comment.