As Carbon County's planning staff has looked at a proposed local multi-use route for off-highway vehicle, equestrian and pedestrian traffic, one goal has been to connect not only to existing designated trails, but to local municipalities.
"Safety has to be our first concern," said Dave Levanger, county planning director. And as the proposed route connects to cities or towns, finding a safe route from the main trail has been difficult in some cases.
Most notably, connecting to Price and Wellington requires lengthy spurs from the main trail. Defining the spurs has not been an easy task.
While planners think they have a workable route to connect to Price, connecting to Wellington has proved to be much more difficult.
The easier connections occur in communities like Helper, Scofield and Sunnyside, where the route runs right through the heart of the city or town.
The proposed route through the county enters the Castle Valley from the west in Consumers Canyon.
Once the trail hits the Wildcat coal load out, it turns north, running close to the railroad grade until it splits just west of Helper.
Plans drafted by the county's planning staff show that there are two acceptable routes through Helper.
Helper has designated certain locations as approved OHV routes and the county's proposed trail plan uses the routes not only to get through the city, but also to cross a major highway.
One route follows Spring Canyon Road, where a trail for bicyclists and pedestrians already exists. The route continues down Spring Canyon Road and continues on Canyon Street until it hits Hill Street. The other route heads west from the railroad grade to Gun Club Road and runs along Reservoir Street before meeting back with the other route at Hill Street.
At the intersection of Hill Street and Canyon Street, there is a paved grade that runs toward U.S. Highway 6.
Crossing major thoroughfares is one obstacle that planners had to overcome as they planned the proposed route, so the decision of where to cross U.S. 6 became one of the defining factors of the plan for the route.
At the bottom of the paved grade down from Hill Street, trail users will be able to safely cross the highway by using a pedestrian underpass.
Once through the underpass, the route crosses Price River before heading into downtown Helper on Hill Street.
The approved OHV route then runs north along 1st West Street.
At Janet Street, the route heads east to Racey Street and then runs north of the old Kenilworth Railroad grade.
The rails have been removed from the old Denver and Rio Grand Railroad that used to run out to Kenilworth. T
The railroad grade is the first section of the proposed route that is not an existing road. However, it is an existing right of way, and county planners looked at the route as an alternative to using Kenilworth Road. The route follows the railroad grade for 3.6 miles until it reaches Kenilworth Road.
The route then crosses Kenilworth Road just outside of Kenilworth and again hits county roads as it heads out on what many know as the Old Wagon Road. In Kenilworth, this road is Clay Bank Road and runs east from Kenilworth Road for 1.9 miles before hitting Price-Kenilworth Road.
However, as the route heads out into the Castle Valley, trial users will find that the road is criss-crossed with roads associated with gas drilling operations. Defining the route for its users will be an important consideration as the project progresses.
County lands and access coordinator, Rex Sacco, said that signage will be an important part of the trail. At trail heads and along the trail, planners agree that marking the trail with visible signs will help trail users stay on the designated route.
"I want to come up with a logo for this trail," added Levanger. He pointed out that the Piute ATV Trail that runs through portions of Millard, Sevier, Piute and Beaver counties uses a rock-art style figure as a logo. They use it on signs along the route to define the trail as it intersects other trails and roads. In addition, they use it on pamphlets and other information for the trail.
County planning staff envision something similar that is unique to the area and clearly distinguishes the route.
As the trail continues to the east, two routes head south from the Old Wagon Road into Price. One runs south for 4.9 miles on Wood Hill Road and connects to Price north of the College of Eastern Utah. The other runs for 4.4 miles down Price-Kenilworth Road and connects to Price at near Castle Gate Elementary.
Levanger pointed out that as the routes are finalized, he and other planning staff will follow guidelines established by each of the cities. He explained that the routes are nothing more than suggestions at this point with nothing set in stone. So if a city has a problem with the route, the county will work with that city to determine a reasonable route.
That is true for state and federal agencies as well. Levanger explained that he and other staff have discussed the proposed project with BLM officials and state land managers. Lev anger said he has discussed the proposed route with the Bureau of Land Management and the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. Those two agencies control most of the land where the route will run, and both seem willing to support the project, said Lev anger.
As the multi-use route proposed by the county continues east, it runs along Kenilworth-Airport Road for 3.5 miles before encountering another thoroughfare, Airport Road.
The route proposed by the county doesn't intersect Airport Road with a simple crossing. Instead, the road from the west hits Airport Road a few hundred feet north of the road where it continues to the east.
That becomes a problem as the standard for OHV trails requires that trail users cross major thoroughfares at right angles. Running along the road for a few hundred feet is not conducive to this requirement.
So county planners have proposed that the county construct a bypass for trail users to cross the road at one point. This requires the construction of a few hundred feet of new trail on the west side of Airport Road.
Another issue to consider is motor vehicle traffic along roads. The proposed route crosses three roads used primarily by coal trucks: Airport Road, Dugout Canyon Road and C Canyon Road. Each of those crossings need to have high visibility in both directions to help avoid a collision between a coal truck and a trail user.
After crossing Airport Road, the proposed route continues east for 4.8 miles through Straight Canyon before crossing Coal Creek Road.
The route continues along the Old Wagon Road from Coal Creek Road on to Soldier Creek Road, some 3.5 miles to the east and then heads out to Nine Mile Canyon Road.
Between Soldier Creek Road and Larks Valley Road, the suggested route will require two areas of construction. One area is between Soldier Creek Road and Dugout Canyon Road, where less than one mile of construction will be required to connect two existing routes.
Part of this section to be constructed would run across private land held by Canyon Fuel. The remainder runs on SITLA land. Negotiations will have to occur between the county and canyon fuel to secure the right of way.
The other area where the county does not have an existing right of way is between Dugout Canyon Road and Larks Valley Road. The two existing routes that need to be connected are just over a mile apart, but they will require close to two miles of constructed route to connect because a large hill sits between the two roads. The proposed construction runs across BLM and SITLA land.
In an effort to facilitate the negotiation required to secure the rights of way in these two areas as well as other areas of the county, the Carbon County Recreation and Transportation Special Service District plans to contract an expert to handle right-of way issues.
Special service district board members have agreed to support the proposed project. In addition to the special service district, the county has discovered that support and funding may be available through SITLA, county restaurant tax, the Utah Permanent Community Impact Board, OHV groups and the private sector.
Connecting to Wellington is another difficulty planners have faced as they outlined the proposed route. Although the roads from the Old Wagon Road connect to Wellington, each route crosses private land on its way south. Securing a right of way on for private sections will be essential if the route is to have spurs connecting to Wellington.
One route to Wellington runs down Coal Creek Road and East Coal Creek Road and hits Highway 6 in East Wellington.
The other route comes down Larks Valley Road for 5.1 miles before it hits Larks Valley-Dugout Road. The route hits Dugout Canyon Road 3.5 miles later. Here, it runs for 2.5 miles along Dugout Canyon Road before taking off on Dugout Creek Road. The route hits Highway 6 east of Cat Canyon.
Lev anger emphasized that the two routes are very tentative, and will require some additional planning before they can be implemented.
County planners have also looked at the concerns of both restroom facilities along the route and collection of garbage. The proposed speed limit for trail users is set at 20 mph. At that rate, if the county wants to offer restrooms every hour along the trail, there should be one facility every 20 miles. That means four of five facilities along the route. The portion between Helper and Larks Valley Road and on to East Carbon and Sunnyside is the longest stretch without any existing restrooms.
Additionally, planners recognize that garbage collection is going to be necessary. Lev anger proposed that trash cans with secure lids be places within a simple containing structure. A pavilion that is enclosed with chain link fence on three sides is a possibility for such a structure.
Editor's note: This is the second in a series of four stories concerning the suggested route and issues relating to the proposed multi-use route across Carbon County.