The Stansbury Park Service Agency will move ahead on plans to construct a state Route 138 underpass after the project was approved by a divided agency board Wednesday night.
Stansbury Park Service Agency Manager Randall Flynn said bids could come in lower than the $898,000 estimate from Triton Engineering, which includes a 20-percent contingency. The service agency board held off on a decision on the underpass in August after learning the project could cost well above the anticipated $500,000 to $600,000.
Board chairman Neil Smart said he spoke with Rep. Doug Sagers, R-Tooele, about possible funding from the state for as much as $300,000 but nothing has been approved or documented outside of a phone call.
Board member Rod Thompson said he wanted to move ahead with the underpass project knowing it could be covered by impact fees from developments on the north side of SR-138. He also cited safety concerns, especially after speaking with families who walk across the highway during a meeting on the county’s alternative transportation plan.
“I would feel terrible if somebody were to get hit,” Thompson said.
While board member Mike Johnson recognized the safety concerns, he said other government entities had a stake in ensuring safety for pedestrians trying to cross SR-138 and were not contributing to the project.
“I agree that it’s a safety issue, but we’re not charged with providing public safety to the general public,” Johnson said. “We’re a parks and recreation district. So where’s Tooele County? Where’s Tooele County School District? Where’s the state of Utah?”
Board member Gary Jensen said, in addition to safety concerns, the underpass connects the service agency’s trail system to developments and parks north of SR-138.
Smart agreed the underpass connected the trail system but also agreed with Johnson it would be good to have other partners contribute to the underpass. Johnson suggested tabling a decision on the underpass until other funding was available.
Thompson made a motion to move ahead on bidding for the project, with a cap of $900,000, and the intention to pursue additional funding for the underpass. The motion was seconded by Jensen and passed by a 3-2 vote, with Johnson and board member Glenn Oscarson in opposition. Board member Cassandra Arnell was absent.
Smart acted as the tie-breaking vote and said he believed the service agency would receive funding from the state or other sources to help offset the cost of the underpass.
Following the vote, Johnson asked what the cost would be to develop additional park space. Flynn said it would cost $75,000 to $80,000 per acre to create a 10-acre park with parking, bathrooms and grass fields.
“I will just remind you we have serious park and recreation needs in this district we need to fund,” Johnson said. “And if you pay $900,000, you’re not building a big park for anybody.”
Flynn said Triton Engineering would have the project ready for bid by the end of November or beginning of December, with the underpass construction complete by the middle of next summer.