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Residents Present Fort Union Development Designs

Mar 09, 2016 11:53AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Cassandra Goff | cassie@mycityjournals.com

Cottonwood - Holladay - Fort Union is considered a major corridor for Cottonwood Heights with many shopping centers, business buildings, parks and homes scattered along the road. The Cottonwood Heights community has been noticing some tribulations of the constantly congested road, including pedestrian walking, bicycling and car traffic. The city staff has been working toward improving this corridor. 

Fort Union has been on the minds of the city council since 2005. Over the past 10 years, there have been multiple studies on the corridor, aiming towards reconstruction. Brigham Young University and the University of Utah both have researched the corridor, and city planners have been using that information to help with their improvement plans. 

Cottonwood Heights city staff invited residents to be a part of a working group that would aid in designing the improvement plans. 

Thirty-five residents from this group attended a walking tour of the corridor in 2015, which illuminated problem areas of the road from a diverse range of interests. 

City planners randomly divided the residents who accepted the invitation into three different groups focusing on contrasting stretches of the corridor. The challenges under consideration in each group included congestions, incompatible zones, row widths, water tanks and pedestrians. 

Fort Union is “not a very friendly place to walk,” Brain Berndt, community and economic developer director of Cottonwood Heights, said. 

After these challenges have adapted adequate solutions, they will focus on “the design and beautification of the street,” Berndt explained.

On Jan. 19, spokespeople from each section of the working group presented their proposed design to the city council during  its weekly meeting.

Jim Butterfield, spokesperson for the Commercial District Group, presented the design for the street section ranging from Union Park Avenue to approximately 1651 East, or Mt. View Park. “It is the most commercial part of the city,” with an “enormous amount of traffic,” Butterfield said in introduction. 

There is a “real concern with traffic and safety. Biking is also a real issue,” Butterfield said. When designing this portion of the proposed road, his group mentioned “safety and aesthetics as primary concerns.” Their suggestions include “landscaping in the median,” street lighting that would create a focal point, designated bus turnouts and “marked pedestrian lanes.”

He would like to see problems involving the “suicide lane” solved with a median incorporating designated appropriate turnouts. They would like the street to “feel calm and comfortable, and be able to walk up and down” easily, Butterfield explained. 

The proposed street for the Commercial District consists of 8-foot sidewalks, 2.5-foot curb and gutters, 5-foot bike lanes, 11-foot travel lanes and a 6-foot median. 

Michelle Koch spoke for the Community District, whose assigned section of the road ranged from Mt. View Park at 1671 East to the Dan’s grocery store at 2029 East which consists of “medium density for residential” and some “low-scale office buildings.” Their main focus was to turn “Fort Union into a main street,” Koch said.

The Community District group incorporated a median into its design as well, but it was designated differently because they want “less space to not have light rail,” Koch said.

They would like to see a “rise between the traffic and bike lane” to “promote walkability” and an off-set crosswalk (which is shown to be safer because it forces pedestrians to stop in the middle or the crosswalk before continuing on). They “wanted a stopping point in the middle of the street,” Koch said, which would serve as a pedestrian refuge in case crossing the entire road became an issue.

The Community District’s proposed plan consists of 8-foot sidewalks, 5-foot bike lanes, 2.5-foot curb and gutters, 8-foot parallel parking stalls, 11-foot travel lanes and an 8-foot median. 

Nancy Hardy presented for the Canyon District, whose area of the corridor runs from 2300 East to Wasatch Boulevard. 

They discussed a walkable “curb separating the road and bike lane,” and they looked at “connect(ing) Big Cottonwood Trail to Ft. Union through a zigzag,” Hardy said. 

The Canyon District’s proposed road consists of 8-foot sidewalks, 5-foot bike lanes, 2.5-foot curb and gutters, 6-inch curb separations, 11-foot travel lanes and an 8-foot median.  

Landscaping was a high priority for each group so the medians and sidewalks proposed consist of green space and beautification. 

Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore commented after questions from his fellow councilmembers, saying that they had a “great starting point.”

If the city council feels the proposed road designs are acceptable, the city planners will go forth in considering budget, finding funding sources, starting a marketing plan, applying for the Street America Grant and creating power line compatibility. The Community and Economic Development department will come back to the council with an implementation plan in a final draft in roughly two months. 

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