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The City Journals

While one controversial road project begins, Murray looks toward the future

Sep 09, 2020 01:49PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Phase two of the Vine Street Project is scheduled to begin Spring 2021. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Murray residents are being asked for their input on future transportation needs as well as current road projects. Murray City will also release results of a Vine Street Improvement Project Phase Two survey regarding a road-widening project between 1300 East and Van Winkle Expressway.

According to the Murray Transportation Master Plan (TMP) survey, “Roughly 1.5 million vehicles use Murray City’s transportation corridors every day (this number does not include I-15 or I-215 traffic volumes).”

The TMP will guide a 30-year strategy to identify and construct transportation improvements, with hopes of providing safer and more effective movement of people and goods throughout the city. 

“Under normal, pre-COVID circumstances, we would be holding multiple public meetings to allow you to share ideas, ask questions, provide input, etc. However, we are following guidance and regulations from local and regional government and the CDC and are having to forego public meetings at this time,” an information sheet from Murray’s contractor, Avenue Consultants, said. The survey can be found online at Murraytransportationplan.com.

Aside from roads, the plan also wants input on other modes of transportation such as bikes, pedestrian routes and mass transit. The last major bus realignment that impacted Murray happened after the TRAX light-rail station opened; several bus routes were eliminated, including westside Murray’s only north-south bus route on 700 West.

Uniquely, the survey gives respondents the ability to pinpoint individual sections of roads and intersections that they feel are hazardous. Respondents can also identify routes they would like to see sidewalks or traffic-calming measures.

The survey also tracks respondents’ use of mass transit and alternative modes of transportation, including bike routes. Bike routes have recently been added to 700 West and Vine Street as part of the Vine Street Improvement Project.

Phase two of the Vine Street project has garnered opposition to widening one of the oldest roads in Murray. Phase one of the project focused on the stretch of road between 900 East and 1300 East, which included adding sidewalks, a center turning lane, as well as curb and gutters. Phase one wasn’t without challenges; the project required right-of-way acquisition of land and removal of old-growth trees.

The Vine Street project is a Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC) project, approved over a decade ago, managed and implemented by Murray City. Construction of phase one ended in 2019, with the design of phase two scheduled to start this year.

Because Woodstock Elementary sits on the corner of 1300 East and Vine Street, numerous student pedestrians must negotiate walking into Vine Street, where no sidewalks exist—notably between the Canal Trail entrance and 1830 East.

Residents in the phase two area have formed an opposition group and, so far, have collected over 1,100 signatures. Their petition states: “Widen Vine Street? Trade trees for Asphalt? 81’ sidewalk to sidewalk?”

The petition also claims that “Federal and state tax funds, distributed by the Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC), awarded grants of approximately $10 million to Murray City to increase the width of Vine Street from 900 East to Highland Drive without citizen input required by NEPA, the National Environment Protection Act.”

Murray City did conduct open houses in 2017 and addressed the issue in the city council meeting held August 22, 2017, where opposition was stated into the public record. The city has discussed, in several city council meetings, the addition of sidewalks, curb and gutter to that section of road as far back as 2015.

A survey, issued by the city in August, gauged the opinions of respondents who live near or use Vine Street about concerns and design preferences for the project, with results to be presented later this year. Construction on Vine Street is slated to begin in Spring 2021.