Tooele City’s Main Street is scheduled to undergo a $25.5 million upgrade project next year. If done correctly, it could make the roadway safer and more efficient. It could also improve commerce by making it easier to access local businesses.
But if it isn’t done right, traffic flow on Main Street could be made worse. It could also cause serious harm to nearby businesses.
Rumored for months and publicly announced by the state in October, SR-36 Renewed currently includes several improvements. As reported in last Thursday’s story “Main Street rebuild plan moves ahead,” the Utah Department of Transportation plans to rebuild and resurface SR-36 from Three O’clock Drive west of Coleman Street to 1280 North.
SR-36 Renewed also includes rebuilding storm drains in the same area, upgrading curbs and sidewalks, and resurfacing SR-36 from 1280 North to 2000 North. But the following list of possible project extras is what caught our attention: UDOT may also include turn lanes, install a concrete median to prevent left turns on Main Street in the city’s historic downtown near Vine Street, and make improvements to existing parking on Main Street. The project is scheduled to begin next April and continue throughout the summer.
It has been a few years since Main Street received a fresh layer of asphalt, but it has been more than 30 years since the street between 200 South and Utah Avenue has received significant engineering and structural improvements to remedy a problem that has frustrated many businesses in that area for years.
In the 1970s, a beautification project on Main Street between 200 South and Utah Avenue updated crumbling curb, gutter and sidewalk. But the new look, which included alignment changes to the street to accommodate landscaping features, also eliminated several parking stalls that businesses — and customers — had relied on for years. It could be argued the loss of those parking stalls on Main Street has contributed to the decline of business in historic downtown Tooele.
According to UDOT, a public presentation on the overall project will be held at a future Tooele City Council meeting. Several public open houses are also planned before construction begins.
All of which sounds useful to inform and prepare residents for several months of construction that will likely result in delays, detours and lots of dust. But what is UDOT doing now to make sure the finished project will meet a variety of needs for today and the future? If parking is going to be improved on Main Street between 200 South and Utah Avenue, it makes sense that affected businesses should take a participatory role and provide input before construction begins.
SR-36 Renewed is an exciting project that promises to give Main Street a welcome facelift. UDOT is acknowledged for making the roadway a priority and committing considerable money for the project. The state agency is also acknowledged for holding a public presentation soon on the project, along with public open houses. Such meetings should provide ample opportunity for the public to become informed about the project.
Likewise, those same meetings should give UDOT plenty of feedback from citizens and affected businesses on whether or not SR-36 Renewed’s design is on the mark. It is hoped UDOT officials will be willing listeners and offer solutions that work for today and tomorrow’s needs on Main Street.