The Heber Valley Parkway Environmental Impact Study will be launching in the coming months. Ahead of the launch UDOT officials have outlined how residents will be able to engage in the process.
UDOT Communications Manager Geoff Dupaix identified three main phases where the public is required to be engaged as part of the environmental study. The first stage is the scoping phase.
“You’re collecting data and you’re looking at what additional corridors should be looked at,” Dupaix explained. “Any potential pitfalls or hazards that the project team needs to be aware of, as well challenges.”
Dupaix says at the end of the scoping phase they will then take the information gathered and identify some alignments that will lead into the alternative’s analysis phase.
“Where you’re saying OK, here are some potential alignments that could provide some benefit as far as moving traffic,” Dupaix said. “As well as potentially minimizing some impacts to the natural environment, as well as homes and businesses. In that alternative analysis phase, you then go back out to the public you say OK here’s what we identified give us your comments, give us your feedback we can then screen out some of the alternatives. Then start in a more in-depth analysis of what alternatives would work best by minimizing the impacts as well as identifying what those impacts are.”
The final stage is the draft EIS stage.
“We’ve identified the no-build alternative which could potentially mean just leave things as they are today with whatever minor improvements are planned in the future,” Dupaix continued. “Or, we’ve identified what we would call a preferred alternative. Which then means we feel that this has the least damage to the environment, it fits within the social and economic climate, as well as reduces impacts to home and properties and businesses along that alignment. We go back out to the public and cities and the county and say here’s what we would recommend as a preferred alternative.”
Dupaix also clarifies that the public will be able to interact with the study throughout the process.
“Now there are other opportunities for the public to interact with the project team; as you’re collecting data, as you are refining data throughout the process,” Dupaix explained. “The process itself has to be data driven in order for it to be objective. That’s something that’s really important with these types of studies. It’s the data that’s going to help guide that decision.”
During the planning study, which precedes the upcoming environmental impact study, UDOT collected nearly 500 comments from residents weighing in on the proposed route. A large number of the comments supported the bypass in some form but many, especially those in the southwestern portion of Heber, opposed a proposal that would run the bypass along 1300 South in Heber.