A number of residents have expressed concern that Canal Blvd will be extended to 6800 W via Madison Avenue once the Reinhart property is developed (see picture above). Below is a copy of an email I sent to the residents who emailed on this issue on Thursday June 20th. Note, I did fix spelling and grammar error that to my chagrin were in the email and made a couple of changes to improve clarity.
*** Update 6 July 2019 ***
At the end off the post I’ve listed a number of misconceptions that I’ve heard or read relative to this issue.
I held off responding to emails on the Canal Blvd / Madison Avenue until I believed I had a full understanding of the concerns of residents and what the city’s options were. I do want to thank you for the generally polite and civil way you have engaged on this issue.
I had a 2.5 hour meeting with Mr. White on June 13th and I want to share with you some of what we discussed plus a bit more. I have read every email and the associated attachments/links sent to me on this issue. Prior to meeting with Mr. White I spent at least 8 hours reading emails and asking staff questions. Additionally, I have spent months, while on the council and as the mayor, on the East-West connector in general. This includes meeting with residents, state officials (from the governor’s office on down), state legislators, various people from UDOT, county officials, and Mountainland Association of Governments officials (this is the group that is providing the funds for the eastern extension of Canal Blvd). So, while I am not a civil engineer or traffic expert I have done a lot of homework and believe I am qualified to have an opinion. Please note the other members of council and our city engineer who met with Mr. White spent a significant amount in prep for their meeting on top of their 1.5 to 2 hours meetings.
The list below includes some of the information I shared with Mr. White and as mentioned a bit more.
- Link to post on the history of the East-West Connector. A connecting road between Alpine Hwy and N. County Blvd has been planned for over 40 years. The city settled on the current location by 2008.
- Having Canal Blvd/Madison avenue function as a collector road has been planned since the late 90’s. As subdivisions have been developed in the area they have been designed with this in mind. For example, when the Madison Meadows subdivision was approved Madison Avenue was designed and built to function as a collector. The road was dedicated to the city on 21 September 2005.
- Link to post which reviews the 2017 UDOT Traffic Study conducted for the eastern extension of Canal Blvd (aka the Murdock Connector). Please note, the only reason the Canal Blvd connection was not explicitly cited in the study was because a state senator was opposed to this specific connection. In in order to not appear biased towards a specific location the more general locations of North, Central, and South were used.
- Based on the 2017 UDOT traffic study, first year benefits to the eastern extension of Canal Blvd include 365,000 driving miles saved per year, $53,728 in reduced vehicle operation costs, and a CO2 reduction of over 150,000 metric tons. The benefits increase each year. Finishing the Canal Blvd/Madison Ave connection will have similar albeit lesser positive impacts. Highland residents will be one of the primary beneficiaries.
- The 2017 study also shows that the eastern Canal Blvd extension will add 1,000 trips per day to 9600 N which currently carries 2,000 to 3,000 trips per day. 10400 N will get another 600 trips per day on top of the 2,000 to 3,500 trips it currently experiences. Let’s say all of these and more will be added to Canal Blvd. That means Canal Blvd will carry about 3,000 trips per day, which is what 9600 N and 10400 experience today. Canal Blvd at 5700 W currently carries about 1,000 trips per day (see my post on the most recent traffic data on Canal Blvd).
- While 9600 N functions as a collector road it was not designed as one. Most homes front 9600 N as opposed to the limited number which do on 10400 and the even fewer homes on Madison Ave and Canal Blvd. Anything we can do to reduce the load on 9600 N, now and in the future, will have a positive impact on safety.
- The most recent traffic data on Canal Blvd shows that 4.1% of vehicles travel 10 mph or more over the speed limit. That is a concern. However, on 10400 N a traffic count showed that 17.5% of vehicles travel 10 mph or more over the speed limit (we are doing another traffic count to double check the results). Why the difference? It could be that Canal Blvd was designed with curves which mitigates speeding whereas 10400 is a straight road. The western extension to Madison will have curves as well.
- With respect to speed bumps the reason elected officials and staff can respond quickly to this suggestion is that residents who have speeding concerns frequently ask for them. Roads where there are speeding concerns include Alpine Hwy, Highland Blvd, N. County Blvd, 5600 W, Country Club Blvd, 6000 W, 6400 W, 6800 W, 9600 N, 10400 N, 11200 N … . Council members who have served for any length of time have already gone through the process of evaluating this solution, weighing the pros and cons, and have already come to their own conclusion. The same applies to staff.
- Best practices in community development include creating a well-connected community that includes a network of collector roads which reduce traffic within subdivisions where children play in driveways and sometimes the road. Connecting Canal Blvd to 6800 W will provide an additional east-wests option to Highland residents and those who travel through Highland. This will allow traffic loads to be dispersed between 9600 N, Canal Blvd, and 10400 N.
I was elected to serve all of Highland. Yes, when I ran I lost the vote in the precinct on the east end of Canal Blvd. Most likely because when I knocked doors in the area I let people know I supported the East-West connector. What this could tell you is that I will be honest with people, regardless of whether they agree with me or not. The fact that we disagreed did not stop me from requesting traffic/speed counts on Canal Blvd, helping to facilitate meetings with the residents in the area and working with staff to find solutions; just as I have on other issues in other areas of the community. I believe that the connection to Madison is in the best interest of Highland as a whole.
As I told Mr. White, we are happy to work with residents to look at options that improve safety and mitigate speed (excluding speed bumps) but I personally have no interest in looking for ways to discourage the use of collector roads. Collector roads reduce traffic within subdivisions and puts it on roads that, by design, are safer for everyone.
You and your neighbors will be receiving mailed invitations to a meeting where staff will share you with their plans for Madison/Canal (July 2, 6:30 to 8:30 pm in the council room). You will have the opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts. Council members will be invited to attend as well. I look forward to seeing you there.
I would like to thank our city engineer Todd Trane, and council members Ostler and Braithwaite for taking the time to meet with Mr. White and for spending time preparing for the meeting as well as the other council members who took the time to read the emails from residents. I appreciate the time they spend serving you, the residents of Highland.
My door is open if you would like to meet with me to discuss this or any issue. The mayor’s job is to represent all residents. It is a responsibility I take seriously, whether or not we agree on any specific issue.--
Highland City Mayor
- When the general plan, including the transportation plan, was last updated, the city was unware that Costco and other retail facilities were coming in AF and Lehi. The plan was updated in a two year process that ran between 2006 and 2007. The retail area that Costco, Lowes, etc. is in was approved in April of 2005. See Utah County Parcel map.
- There is a second phase coming in the development south of Lone Peak High School that will include the land south of the Murdock Canal. There has been no discussion at any level within the state or city of turning this land into residential or commercial property that I or Development Center Board members are aware of.
- The east entrance to 9600 is being improved to make it more inviting. The east entrance to 9600 is being improved to make it more safe. There have been a number of discussions over the years on this topic. American Fork submitted a request for regional (MAG) funding of this a couple years ago. The request was too low a regional priority to get funding. The intersection has the 2nd most accidents of any non-signalized intersection on Alpine Hwy. Click here to view Utah vehicle collision map.
- The city is planning to increase the speed limit on 9600 N. This has not been discussed. Staff would be opposed to an increase were that to be suggested by anyone.
- The city is considering an increase to the speed limit on Canal Blvd. Partially true. Staff will likely recommend that the speed limit on the entire length of Canal Blvd be 30 mph once Madison is connected. This means there will be a 5 mph speed reduction east of 6000 W and a 5 mph increase west of 6000 W.
- The city did not finalize using Canal as the connecting point for a East-West connector between N. County Blvd and Alpine Hwy until 2017. This decision was finalized in 2007. A proposal was made that year to shift the connection point to 9600 N but it was not approved.
- Connecting Madison and Canal will cost the city $3.4M. The connection will be funded by the developer.