Efforts to reduce vehicle traffic on state Route 36 and to make the roadway more safe may have just shifted from push to shove.
Such reasoning comes to mind after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made public last week it will build the new Tooele Valley Utah Temple in Erda next to an area of SR-36 that routinely sees high traffic volume and is accident prone.
As reported in last Thursday’s edition, the church has chosen to build the new temple on ground northwest of the intersection of SR-36 and Erda Way. After the church announced the new temple last spring during General Conference, it was speculated the edifice would be built on either the east bench overlooking Tooele City, or on church-owned ground in Erda.
Last Wednesday the church announced it chose Erda. According to the church, current plans call for a three-story temple of approximately 70,000 square feet with an adjacent 20,000-square-foot meetinghouse. Design plans are still being developed.
However, the new temple will be the same size as the temple in Orlando, Florida, and 10,000 square-feet larger than the Oquirrh Mountain Temple in South Jordan.
A groundbreaking date has not yet been set, according to the church. Also, project leaders will begin working with local officials on preliminary plans for the temple, and will soon start filing public documents.
While developing those plans, it is our hope that project leaders and local officials will invest significant time studying the potential impacts the temple may cause to traffic on SR-36 — and the intersection at Erda Way in particular — in the short and long term.
Because of the nearby Excelsior Academy Charter School, traffic congestion at the intersection and on Erda Way can be heavy during mornings and afternoons. It is a common sight to see motorists take reckless chances to beat the stoplight at the intersection, or get around slowed traffic.
Logic suggests the new temple, with a steady daily flow of church members and visitors, may cause an already busy SR-36 and Erda Way to become even more onerous. Which is why reducing traffic congestion and increasing motorist safety through that area is crucial.
When President Russell M. Nelson announced last spring the church’s intent to build a temple in Tooele Valley, we published an editorial that called the news a welcome and delightful surprise that answered the prayers of many local LDS faithful.
We also highlighted economic benefits the temple will bring, such as initial construction employment followed by more local jobs created by expanded business opportunities.
But we also noted more traffic congestion as a potential downside. However, we affirm that increased traffic on SR-36 caused by the new temple can be mitigated through good, cooperative planning and timely action.
Construction on the first phase of the new Midvalley Highway is set to begin this fall. But with the new temple, and a possible new high school just up the road west of Home Depot, efforts to lessen vehicle traffic on SR-36 have indeed shifted from push to shove.