Commission delays support for planned Price River walkway
The Carbon County commission declined to offer support for a proposal for a walkway along the river in the Price and Carbonville area last week. County officials said they may offer support at a later date, but felt there was inadequate information presented.
On Jan. 3, proponents of the walkway offered a proposal to construct a walkway along the Price River from the Utah Highway 10 crossing, heading upstream across the 100 North crossing and ending in Carbonville near the old Lower Gordon Creek Road at about 700 North.
The desire to build a parkway for pedestrian and bicycle use stemmed out of plans to make environmental and other improvements to the Price River to control salinity in the river.
In recent years, water conservancy districts in Carbon and Emery counties have pushed for agricultural improvements which have greatly reduced the salinity from agricultural drainage.
The improvements have included projects such as pressurized irrigation systems and moisture monitors.
One of the next steps is to improve the area immediately surrounding the Price River by removing or containing nonnative plants such as Russian olive and tamarisk which have invaded the Price River drainage system.
The improvements to the river are largely being funded by federal and other grants.
However, proponents of the walkway are seeking an enhancement grant from the Utah Department of Transportation.
If approved, UDOT would fund 80 percent of the parkway up to $750,000, with 20 percent coming from local funding sources.
Above $750,000, the state would fund 50 percent of the project.
Brian Barton, an engineer from Jones & Demille Engineering, has been working on preliminary plans for the parkway.
The engineer explained that he has had preliminary contact with Price city engineer Gary Sonntag and Carbon County Commissioner Bill Krompel and discussed the likelihood of getting all or part of the funding from the Carbon County Recreation and Transportation Special Service District.
UDOT's funding deadline is Feb. 1 and Barton explained that there were more than 80 preliminary applications submitted.
The state's funding budget for enhancement grants is $5 million, but Barton pointed out that the walkway appears to be the only application from eastern Utah and is likely to get higher consideration because of the alternative transportation component of the project.
Barton further explained that the funding decisions will be made in June with funds available in October or November.
"Conceptually, I think it's a very worthy project, by not just improving the total dissolved salts and vegetation, but the opportunity to have a trail," said Krompel. "There's some real positives here."
However, commissioners had some concerns which need resolution before Carbon County will back the project.
Commissioner Mike Milovich pointed out that much of the project is in Price city.
Milovich indicated that the city should take on the main nance role at a minimum and should be taking the lead role to pursue construction.
That condition is similar to the agreement between the county and Helper regarding the Price River Parkway in the city.
"I'm supportive of the project, but I want to know who the players are and where all the money is coming from. I don't have any problem with the project, but I think it's a little presumptuous to assume that we're going to pay the full tab on this right out of the gateway."
Commissioner Steve Burge suggested that a memorandum of understanding involving the county, the special service district and the city may be appropriate.
The commission suggested that the parties - Price city officials, county officials and special service district board members - sit down together to determine the best course of action before the Feb. 1 application deadline.