County will focus on east section of trail this year
|An ATV enthusiast enjoys a ride on a wooded trail. The western part of the proposed Carbon County multiple use trail will not be in the plan for this year, but will probably be included in future years.|
A cross-country multi-use trail proposed by Carbon County will likely focus on sections of the trail east of Helper, Dave Levanger, county planning director told Sunnyside residents on Tuesday. While county officials deal with issues related to passing through the area of Scofield, other municipalities are expressing an interest in solving problems and bringing any economic benefit of the trail system into their cities.
Levanger was joined by a representative of Jones & DeMille Engineering, Brian Barton, in explaining how the proposed route would pass through Sunnyside and addressing questions raised by the city council.
The proposal has been in planning stages for years and last year, the county selected the engineering firm to construct the backbone of a trail system that would extend from Skyline Drive and Scofield to Nine Mile Canyon, passing through or near as many municipalities on the route as possible.
The suggested route for the trail follows existing county roads. Between Helper and Sunnyside, only short distances of the trail would need to be built to make road crossings safer and to connect roads into one continuous length.
More construction and planning is required in Scofield. That is complicated by a short construction window due to weather at the higher elevation.
The county has faced a series of issues relating to the connection through Scofield, which has delayed possible construction to the point of not being possible this year. As a result, both the planning director and the engineering firm support beginning work on connecting Helper, Sunnyside and sites between.
In addition, to the route across the valley, trail planners ave suggested a route over Bruin Point with two routes from Bruin Point to Nine Mile Canyon. One route would go down Cold Springs Canyon, the other down Dry Canyon. Levanger explained that in order to connect the two, the county plans to open just more than two miles of Nine Mile Canyon road to ATV traffic.
Already, OHV riders are traveling on the canyon road, pointed out the planning director. He explained that all across the county, more riders are traveling in areas that haven't been declared open. He explained that one of the reasons for establishing a trail system is to give trail users a place that they can use and to move unsanctioned riding to approved areas.
"We have a problem right now, but we're trying to give [ATV riders] choices," said Levanger.
He noted that the two municipalities are completely off of the main route as it currently stands. Both Price and Wellington will need to be accessed by spurs off the main trail. However, he added that both cities are interested in developing a way that the trail system will connect to their cities. Barton indicated that he would be meeting with representatives from both cities to determine the best method for connection.
According to the initial plans, the trail system connects directly to each of the remaining municipalities in the county. County planning officials have faced obstacles with the route in Scofield, where residents appear to be opposed to the trail passing through the town. Despite those concerns, other communities along the trail appear to be more in favor of the added traffic and have shown a willingness to address concerns raised by citizens.
Since off-highway vehicles are considered to be one of the largest groups that will use the trail concerns surrounding the effects of OHVs has been high on the list of concerns. County planning officials have indicated that the trail will be usable by other groups, such as equestrian riders, mountain bikers, hikers and others. Each of those groups has to be regulated to an extent. Many cities have already passed ordinances regarding the different types of traffic. County ordinances and state laws add to hose regulations.
In Helper, for instance, the city council passed an ordinance more than a year ago establishing the approved routes for OHVs. Other cities have followed suite. Sunnyside passed an ordinance last year and other municipalities have either passed or are in the planning staged for approving similar ordinances.
As each city makes its decision regarding how it will handle OHV and other traffic, the county has indicated it will is willing to work through concerns and develop a route through impacted cities that best meets concerns raised by residents and elected officials.
"I'm really excited about the trail," Sherri Madrid, Sunnyside councilmember, told county representatives. She raised a concern relating to the amount of noise generated by the OHVs that pass through the city.
"If your ATV meets state regulations ans you go the speed limit, there shouldn't be a problem," said Levanger. He noted that concerns in other municipalities have been related to the modified ATVs that might use the trail. Many of those modifications do not meet state regulations, and as a result the city or the county can ban them on the trail.
He added that the city has a measure of control over the noise level because it can establish a speed limit through the city. Sunnyside currently has an established speed limit of 15 miles per hour, though some portions of existing trails in the city are as low as 10 miles per hour.
Barnum added that the out of town users of the trail are likely to be more observant of speed regulations and other ordinances.
"In general, the users of these types of trail facilities are 50 years old or older," said Barnum. "It's usually the local kids that cause the problems."
That works in the favor of local law enforcement who can target repeated offenders and can more easily determine who offenders are. Levanger noted that there are specific law enforcement questions that needed to be addresed throughout the county. He told councilmembers that he was in the process of contacting representatives from the Utah Department of Parks and Recreation. Many of the state parks in the state have already dealt with the issue of ATVs and other types of traffic and could help with suggestions on how to curb any law enforcement issues.
Another concern raised by the council in Sunnyside related to the trash collection, restrooms and other services along the route. Levanger said that the county would prefer to rely on local businesses for restroom facilities. As trail users take advantage of restrooms provided by these businesses, many will benefit from the added visitors to their stores and offices.
With a relatively low number of businesses with store fronts in Sunnyside and East Carbon, the community may need additional restroom facilities. Sunnyside maintains a restroom facility in the city park, but keeps it locked unless a specific group has reserved the park and can take responsibility for vandalism.
Levanger said he should look into a solution to put a restroom along the trail in the community.
A final concern related to dust. Levanger again referred to speed enforcement being necessary for dust control. He added that in the future, the county would like to work with the cities to improve the surface of trail routes in and around municipalities and homes. He said that there are a variety of surfacing options available which he hopes will work to control dust along the route.