In April, UDOT approved funding for an environmental impact study of the Heber Valley Parkway. Earlier this month UDOT officials met with local officials and the public to discuss the next steps in producing the environmental document. The study may be underway by the end of 2019.
UDOT Communications Manager Geoff Dupaix assures Heber Valley residents that will be plenty of opportunities to provide input as the environmental document is prepared. However, Dupaix says that one of the challenges of any environmental study is that public input is just one factor to be considered as part of the environmental document.
“First and foremost, when it comes to environmental impacts such as water features, wetlands, those types of things, one of the main priorities is avoid, minimize any impacts to that wet land or water source, or mitigate,” Dupaix continued. “So public input plays a role, but it also has to be balanced with other technical factors such as the environment, other resources, natural resources, historic properties, parks. There are a lot of other factors that also has to be considered in addition to the public feedback that we get during the process. So, it’s an important part but it’s one of many important pieces that we have to look at.”
UDOT is currently seeking a contractor to complete the Environmental Impact Study. Dupaix says their goal is to have the study process begin at the end of 2019.
“We don’t have an established schedule at this point,” Dupaix explained. “These types of studies because of the in-depth nature they do take and can take 3 to 5 years to complete. if we can complete it sooner, we will definitely do that.”
UDOT has set aside $4 million to conduct the study. If the study results in a corridor being selected, Dupaix says UDOT could possibly handle the corridor preservation.
“It’s somewhat nuanced, there could be some reimbursements depending on if that corridor had been preserved prior to the environmental document,” Dupaix said. “We have to let the process make those types of determination before we could even venture what amount of property would need to be purchased and who would make those purchasing decisions in the future. It’s a little too early to tell.”
Dupaix says ultimately, they want the public to be fully engaged and informed as the environmental study moves forward.
“The process is set up to make sure that we gather as much data and input and feedback from the public as well as from other resource agencies,” Dupaix continued. “Conduct that thorough analysis to make sure an identified solution is one that will work for the future. UDOT is really committed to engaging with the cities and the county as well as the public; to make sure that they remain informed and involved as we move forward.”