The efforts of the Provo Canyon Parkway Committee have been much maligned over the past several years, most recently by Everett R. Booth and "149 others" in a letter to the editor.
In response, I would like to review what the Parkway Committee has been up to. For the past five years I have been a member of the committee and have helped put together many of the ideas that are and will come to fruition in Provo Canyon.The Parkway Committee has always supported a four-lane highway in Provo Canyon.
But not the four-lane highway the Utah Department of Transportation began to build and planned to extend through Provo Canyon. You see, UDOT did not plan to include a median in their highway. There would have been four lanes of 50-mph traffic zipping through that canyon, two up and two down, with nothing but 4-inches of bright yellow paint between them.
We thought that was unsafe - more than that, it was dangerous, perhaps more dangerous than the existing road. And, we found out it was contrary to highway design standards to build a 50-mph road without a median, as spelled out in the Policy on Geometric Design of Highways.
We lobbied hard for a median. And we got one. UDOT has gone back, adjusted lanes and put a median in the new section of road at the mouth of the canyon. The four-lane highway currently being designed by UDOT has a median. We are thrilled, and we think you should be, too.
That alone would be victory. But that is not all the committee accomplished during the past four years. You may have noticed work being done at the mouth of the canyon and around the Murdock Diversion Dam. That is another of the Parkway Committee's suggestions coming to life.
We thought the mouth of the canyon was an eyesore and a shame. It is the entrance, after all, to what we think is one of Utah County's greatest treasures. We proposed to build a park there using community volunteers and donated materials. We drew up conceptual plans, we began a "name the park" contest, we began strategizing about how to get funding. We asked for UDOT's blessing. They gave more than that.
UDOT officials thought a park was a good idea - such a good idea they agreed to take the whole project on. The Transportation Committee has provided more than $1 million for the park, which will be planted with wild flowers and native plants and will include walking trails.
UDOT is to be commended. We think the park will be one of the most visited sites in the canyon. It demonstrates the good things that can happen when interest groups and bureaucracies put their heads together.
That is not all. UDOT has also agreed to build a recreation trail through the canyon. We proposed and pushed for the trail. Not only will it be an incredible attraction for everyone from athletes to families, but it accomplishes something crucial: it gets joggers and a good portion of bicyclists off the new 50-mph road that will be built.
But even that is not all. Have you noticed the new barriers erected at the mouth of Provo Canyon? That was the committee's suggestion, too. Why use concrete barriers along the sides of the road in Provo Canyon, we asked UDOT. Why not use natural-looking rustic steel and beam barriers that are easier to climb over and do not totally block out the view of the river? UDOT agreed.
Other accomplishments: a committee - one the Parkway Committee pushed very hard for - is currently working with Arix/Versar Engineers on the design of the road that will be presented to the public in June or July. The committee is looking at road alignment, landscaping, river issues, recreation, etc. We expect many of our other suggestions to show up in the final road design.
We have every reason to believe - based on UDOT's recent actions - they will. Progress has not been blocked by the Provo Canyon Parkway Committee. It has been pushed.