|A pedestrian crossing allows access for trail users crossing U.S. Highway 6 in Helper. As planning for the proposed route continues, obstacles such as crossings on major highways will need to be addressed.|
The Carbon County Recreation and Transportation Special Service District board decided Monday to move forward with a proposed off-highway vehicle route through the local area.
The special July 18 meeting was scheduled to allow input from elected officials representing the various cities throughout the county as well as the county itself.
Last week, Randy Johnson and Dirk Beckstrand presented a proposal for route planning, construction and marketing.
However, special service district board members and county commissioners expressed concern at that time and the board voted to table the proposal until the special meeting on Monday.
County planning director Dave Levanger presented the route that has been suggested by his office.
The suggested route starts at the northewest corner of the county on United States National Forest Land, then goes south to Scofield on the west side of the reservoir.
The route parallels Utah Highway 96 and heads south to the Eccles Canyon coal loadout. From there, it climbs Broads Canyon to Beaver Canyon and Consumers Canyon.
From the Wildcat coal loadout in Consumers, the route goes north to Helper and then heads west along Old Wagon Road, passing north of Price and Wellington and then out to Sunnyside and East Carbon. The route then makes a loop over Bruin Point, down Dry Canyon to Nine Mile Canyon and back up to Bruin Point through Cottonwood Canyon and the newly developed Cold Springs Road.
The total route from Nine Mile Canyon Road to the northwest corner of the county is 110 miles, according to an email sent last month to the Sun Advocate by Max Kroger, county geographical informations system specialist.
Levanger explained that the route would eventually connect to Price and Wellington. In addition a spur has been studied that would extend from Consumers Canyon Road to the county fairgrounds and the south west portion of the county.
"The connection to Wellington will likely be the toughest," said Levanger. He said that one of the considerations with the Wellington connection would be the amount of private land that would need to be crossed.
However, Wellington officials present at the meeting said that they already had some rights of way on proposed OHV routes in their area. They indicated that the connection to Wellington may not be as difficult as previously thought.
Crossing state and federal highways raised some concern among board members. Levanger explained that the state requires that OHV riders stop at the highway edge and cross at right angles to the highway.
An audience member pointed out that one such crossing exists in Emery County on Utah Highway 10, just south of Castle Dale.
|Snow still crosses the road in Dry Canyon. The road is part of the multi-use route suggested by the county.|
The question posed at the meeting was how to continue with the plan for the proposed route.
"It is the commission's opinion that this project is important enough that we need to have a plan in place," said County Commissioner Mike Milovich.
He suggested that for funding, the restaurant tax board could pay for planning and then later for general upkeep and marketing of the route.
"The special service district needs to be intimately involved with the project as we move along," state Milovich. He added that since the special service district has larger amounts of money for one-time investments, construction costs could be handled by the district.
Restaurant tax board member Sam Farlaino asked if the county should request turn-key proposals for the route. Milovich agreed that the best option would be to get one agent to take the project from conception to completion, rather than bidding out individual portions.
However, if that request for proposals would be pursued, the district needed to withdraw their request for proposals for a right of way agent for the route. The board moved to not accept any proposals that resulted from the advertised request.
The county commission was expected to approve a request for turn-key proposals yesterday. That meeting was scheduled to occur after the Sun Advocate press deadline.
"We're looking for the best proposal, not just the lowest bidder," said commissioner Steve Burge.
In addition to the proposal, Milovich said that involvement from OHV groups would be necessary.
"It's going to take a community pulling together to make this happen," he said.
He added that the county should form a committee for the planning of the route. That committee should include a representative from each incorporated city or town in the county. In addition, representatives from the special service district and the restaurant tax committee would sit on the committee. Other committee members would be chosen from OHV groups and enthusiasts.
That committee is expected to make recommendations on the project directly to the county commission.
The contract for planning and development of the trail will be awarded by the commission, under advisement from the special service district and restaurant tax committee. The agent who received the contract is expected report to the commission, but take advisement from the route planning committee.
"There's a huge task here that needs to be under one roof," said special service district board member Neil Breinholt. He said that as similar projects have been pursued in the past, many of the groups involved with those plans hadn't considered the wide array of factors that surround a project such as this one.
Those factors could include are right of way issues, marketing and safety on the onset. But there are likely obstacles that haven't been considered. The commission and the planning committee would have to consider those factors as they arose.
As a result the plan for the route will require flexibility to handle those issues.
Beckstrand expressed his opinion that the proposal to the county should be flexible enough to handle those issues. He added that the agent contracted by the county will need to be able to deal with long-term aspects of the project while dealing with more immediate concerns.
Beckstrand also commended the county for taking a proactive approach. He said that all too often, communities deal with increased recreational usage in a reactive approach.
Price Mayor Joe Piccolo added that the committee and the county will need to also consider jurisdictional factors. The route as planned crosses four municipalities and land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Forest Service, the State Institutional Trust Land Administration and various private land owners.
As a result, Levanger pointed out that state and federal agencies would be involved in the process as they have been over the past decade since the plan was originally conceived.