Saturday, April 15, 2017

Murdock Connector: An Analysis of the 2017 Traffic Study

Another milestone was reached last month when a road study was completed on impact of constructing an East-West Connector. Below is a brief summary of the report, my analysis of the information provided, and suggestions on how you can impact the decision going forward. According to the study (click here to see the report).

  • 80% of the traffic on a connector would be local traffic while 20% would be commuter.
  • While all of the proposed routes have a positive impact on traffic, the central option has the best overall long term impact.
  • All connector options would reduce traffic on both SR-92 and 700 N in American Fork.

2017-04-14 Connector Options

There are issues with each of the locations for a connector which were analyzed (see the map above).

  • The northern connection is not really possible because of the Alpine Country Club and existing homes.
  • The southern connector goes through the American Fork golf course. This routing would also skirt the the northern boundary of the development center and likely create safety issues for the residents.
  • The central connector threads its way between the American Fork golf course and Highland Glen park, minimally impacting both. It would have a negative impact on some homes in Pheasant Hollow.

According to the study the central routing will provide the most overall benefit to the local communities. This is the route that Highland City has proposed and that MAG (Mountainland Association of Governments) has funded. The proposed road will connect Alpine Hwy and North County Blvd. The connection on Alpine Hwy will be at Canal Blvd/9860 N. The North County Blvd connection will at Harvey Blvd (just north of Highland Gardens). You can locate these on the Google map below – just follow the top of the state property highlighted in yellow east and west.

The charts below show the impact on three key measures of effectiveness of roads for the central connector option (aka Murdock Connector). Both the initial impact and projected 2040 impact are shown.

The Bottom Line

  1. A connector road will primarily benefit the local community, which donates over 30,000 hours of service annually to the state development center  (an estimated 1,789 adults and youth donate 31,461 hours – click here for details) . Note, given the amount of time donated by the local community to serving the development center one could argue the state should provide an easement for the road to the city/county at no cost.
  2. The road will shorten the commute for many of the Development Center’s employees, volunteers, and visitors.
  3. The road will also improve access to the offices and retail businesses that the state is in the process of developing south of Lone Peak HS, thereby increasing revenue generated to help support the Development Center (click here to view the initial approved long term plan). 
  4. The connector will save drivers nearly 44,000 hours of travel time per year by 2040.
  5. Annual total vehicular miles traveled by residents in the area will be reduced over 1,800,000 miles by 2040. Assuming the road is constructed in 2018 Utah residents will have saved over $3,500,000 in vehicle related costs by 2040 (see 2017-04-15 Murdock Connector Benefits spreadsheet for details).
  6. The reduction in miles traveled will of course also have a positive impact on the environment. A total of 8.7M less metric/tons of CO2 between 2019 and 2040 (see 2017-04-15 Murdock Connector Benefits spreadsheet for details). 
  7. The Murdock connector (central option) will initially reduce traffic on SR92 and 700 N in American Fork by about 14% and 22% respectively.
  8. Because access to the Development Center is improved, public safety personnel will be able to respond more quickly to emergency situations thus improving the safety and security of the residents.
  9. Although it was not cited in the report a significant part of the local community will be able to get to the American Fork hospital faster with the connector in place.
  10. As mentioned there are some homes in Highland which will be impacted by the road. The city and county will need to work with them so the impact is mitigated.

In the end if you care about the safety and security of development center residents, care about its employees, visitors and volunteers, want to increase the chances of success for the commercial development that will help fund the center, want to improve the environment, and benefit the surrounding community that strongly supports the center, constructing the Murdock Connector is the right thing to do!

Note, in a Highland City survey taken in January of 2017 of 991 responses to the question do you support the Murdock Connector 79% said yes. The poll has an estimated 3% margin of error.

Below is a map showing the undeveloped state land between the proposed Murdock Connector and the north boundary of the Development Center. It is a 165 acre parcel that is about 0.6 miles long.

What Can You Do?

In order for the connector to be built the Utah State Development Center Board must first make a recommendation to the state legislature on the road and then the state legislature must approve it.

The following individuals are members of the board:

Let them know your view on the connector and remember your comments will have much more influence if they are respectful.

Our state legislators are (I’ve included the cities they represent which are most impacted by the connector):

  • Mike Kennedy, state representative, district 27 (Alpine, Cedar Hills, Highland),, 801-358-2362
  • Kay Christofferson, state representative, district 56 (American Fork, Highland, Lehi),, 801-592-5709
  • Brian Greene, state representative, district 57 (Cedar Hills, Pleasant Grove), 801-358-1338
  • Jake Anderegg, state senator, district 13 (Highland),, 801-901-3580
  • Dan Hemmert, state senator, district 14 (Alpine, American Fork, Cedar Hills, Pleasant Grove),, 801-380-8262.
  • Margaret Dayton, state senator, district 15 (Pleasant Grove),,  801-221-0623.

They are all good representatives and are willing to listen to your point of view. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Again, whatever your view, please be respectful.

Please note, the city councils of Alpine, American Fork, Cedar Hills, Highland, and Pleasant Grove all passed resolutions last year supporting the construction of the Murdock Connector.

If you support the Murdock Connector please click here to sign an online petition to let our legislators know how you feel – many signers have also left comments.

You may find that reviewing a brief history of the connector (click here) will help in formulating your input to the board or legislative members.


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