Safety is a main concern for people who love to run, walk and bicycle throughout Tooele Valley.
From 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, the Tooele County Health Department unveiled its goals for future and safe active transportation in the valley during a public open house at the Stansbury Park Clubhouse.
The goals are part of the health department’s Active Transportation Implementation Plan. The open house also featured a map that showed a proposed 9-mile path for active transportation only, such as walking, running and cycling.
The path would start south of Erda, wind through Stansbury Park, go through Lake Point and possibly continue around the point of the mountain.
Brad Gillies, of the county health department, said about 40 people attended the open house.
Tracy Schaffer, of Stansbury Park, said she was interested in attending the open house because she walks and bikes all over Stansbury, Erda and Lake Point.
“A lot of times, I don’t feel safe because of uneven sidewalks, mailboxes covering the sidewalks or trying to cross [state Route] 36,” Schaffer said. “I go with a group of five or six people early around 5 a.m. and we try to be safe. We wear reflective gear, and stay together as a group for safety reasons. During the winter they do their best to clear the roads, but most of the sidewalks aren’t cleared so we’re back out in the streets. One time, we even used snow shoes.”
“Overall, safety is the big concern for me,” she added.
Schaffer said the county’s Active Transportation Implementation Plan is a good start, and she hopes the pathway can be built as soon as possible.
Stansbury Park resident Charlie Roberts said the gathering generated positive energy and addressed a critical need in Tooele Valley.
“The proposed trunk routes will serve as an excellent foundation to build a solid active transportation system for our community,” Roberts said. “My only suggestion is to tie the plan into Tooele City and Grantsville.”
Roberts said he enjoyed interacting with cyclists, runners and walkers at the open house.
“We identified the good, current active transportation routes and some of the areas that are currently dangerous,” he said.
Stansbury High School track coach Steve Allen said being active is very important to him and it should be important to the community.
“It’s really important to make sure we can be active and be safe at the same time,” Allen said.
“I wanted to attend the open house because I believe most of us just want a say or want to have some input on what our community is doing to improve our way of life,” Allen said. “Other great communities have these paths and trails that are safe. The trails promote being healthy and bring communities together.”
Heidi Goedhart, active transportation manager for the Utah Department of Transportation, said it was good to see progress being made on more active transportation plans for Tooele Valley.
“With all the growth, we’re looking for ways to eliminate traffic congestion,” Goedhart said. “It’s also a good way for people to get in their 30 minutes of physical activity each day.”
Amy Bate, public information officer for the health department, said there are no cost estimates yet to build the pathway.
“The pathway spans different communities and there is hope that at different times these paths will be developed, whether by the county, Stansbury community, or private developers, and they will all eventually connect,” Bate said. “It would be built in sections as money and property become available.”
The Active Transportation Implementation Plan includes six goals:
• Integrate active transportation into new and improved major transportation facilities. The goal is to include proper sidewalks, pathways, bike lanes, crossing and other facilities in the planning, design and construction of major new and expanded roads and streets.
• Build active transportation trunk routes through the valley. This means planning, designing and building primary pathways connecting central Tooele Valley communities. These pathways should support all pedestrians, cyclists and other active travelers; include trailheads, unique branding, rest stops and other amenities; and plan for “branches” linking communities with developments.
• Connect Tooele Valley’s active travelers to key destinations. This means focusing investment on routes that link Tooele Valley residents, employees and visitors to destinations important to them.
• Ensure that new developments have connected active transportation infrastructure. The goal is to provide networks of paths and sidewalks that connect to major places and streets.
• Enable pedestrians and cyclists to thrive while remaining safe. The goal is to cultivate high rates of safe walking, cycling and other active transportation among Tooele Valley’s communities.
• Increase community visibility, awareness and support active transportation. The goal is to promote active transportation and create examples of quality infrastructure that people can see.
The county hired the engineering, planning and environmental company Parametrix to help formulate the active transporation plan. The company has an office in Midvale.
“We’ll consider all the information we gathered at the open house in putting together the plan,” said Parametrix senior planner Tim Sullivan. “We want to prioritize areas of the pathway and hope to develop those projects soon.”
People at the open house participated in a survey, and others can do the same thing online.
“Those responses help us know how many people are biking, jogging, walking and how enthusiastic they are about active transporation plans,” Sullivan said. “One of our goals now is to create enthusiasm and excitement about active transporation and keep that enthusiasm alive in the county.”
He said people can learn about topics discussed at the open house and take the survey online at www.tooelecat.org.
“We would still love to get more feedback, and then we will present our draft plan at another open house at the beginning of winter,” Sullivan said.
An official plan will be adopted in March, 2018.