Orem has joined Provo in an attempt to limit trucks traveling through Provo Canyon.
A resolution passed by the Orem City Council on Tuesday and by the Provo City Council in November will ask transportation officials to close the canyon to interstate truck traffic (trucks passing through the state with no scheduled delivery points here).City officials say trucks clog traffic, which increases air pollution. Officials also believe truck traffic threatens pedestrian safety.
"Both Provo and Orem were faced with problems with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) because of high carbon monoxide levels," Blaine Willes, Orem's mayor, said Tuesday.
"Provo has had a problem on University Avenue, and they need to lower carbon monoxide levels to meet EPA standards or they will lose federal funding. Orem has not gotten the same notoriety, but we have one EPA monitor site that has begun to exceed standards."
Willes said although trucks' diesel engines do not emit carbon monoxide, trucks slow traffic, allowing carbon monoxide fumes from other vehicles to accumulate.
Orem officials also believe limiting interstate truck traffic might help with another problem. Earlier this year, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) took steps to move the designation of U.S. 189, the road that runs through the canyon.
As U.S. 189 leaves Provo Canyon, it follows University Avenue. UDOT's proposed redesignation would have moved Highway 189 to Eighth North, Orem.
"We had a significant rebellion against that plan. There was a lot of worry and flack from citizens in the north end of town," Willes said.
Residents were worried the redesignation would increase high-speed traffic through residential areas, posing a safety threat to children.
UDOT officials agreed to postpone the application for the redesignation, but Orem officials hope limiting interstate truck traffic will solve the University Avenue traffic and carbon monoxide problem so no redesignation will be needed.
Interstate truck traffic through the canyon could be prohibited if 189 were a state road rather than a federal road, Orem city manager Daryl Berlin said.
The resolution will next go to Gov. Norm Bangerter, state lawmakers and the Utah Department of Transportation for review and possible recommendation to federal transportation officials.
Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins said in an earlier interview that I-80 in Parleys Canyon was built specifically as the truck route through Utah to the California coast, but truckers don't use that route because the grade is too steep in places.