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Wednesday, October 28, 2020
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Trail system plan in works for south county

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Chris Bairdhttp://www.servedaily.com
Chris is a family man with a beautiful wife and four kids. Three Girls, One Boy. He enjoys playing basketball, being outdoors, and the old normal.

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By Christi C. Babbitt

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With the help of southern Utah County’s cities, a local governmental organization is evaluating the area’s walking and bicycling opportunities and drafting a plan to improve them.

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Representatives of the Mountainland Association of Governments held a public meeting in Spanish Fork on Oct. 22 to collect public input on an Active Transportation Plan being developed for south county communities stretching from Springville to Santaquin. The plan will address future development of walking and biking trails in the southern Utah County area.

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Jim Price, an active transportation planner for MAG, said the Spanish Fork meeting was part of MAG’s efforts to learn where the public would like to see trails developed. “There are a lot of people down here that know where they like to go or where they want to go, and we want them to tell us,” he said.

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MAG, an organization providing community development and regional planning services to residents in Utah, Summit and Wasatch counties, has worked with individual cities in northern Utah County during the past several years to improve the walking and biking opportunities in that area. When MAG approached the cities in southern Utah County, the cities wanted to join together and create a plan as a group.

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There are currently more trails available to residents in northern Utah County, but the area has a larger population as well. “As south county continues to grow, the opportunity to put in some of these trails is going to disappear if we don’t jump on it now,” Price said. The plan would include new trails as well as ways to network the trails together.

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Funding for new trails already exists through a variety of sources including the federal gas tax, county sales tax and state funds. Often trails are created as UDOT rebuilds roads, Price said, adding that it is much more cost effective to install a trail when construction is already happening.

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“What we find is that in order to take advantage of opportunities that do arise, we have to plan for them. Without a plan, those opportunities never take shape. They come and they go,” Price said.

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MAG uses technology to count how many people use existing county trails. Price pointed out that these are established, paved trails, not neighborhood or wilderness trails. In 2014, MAG counted 2.2 million trips on the trails countywide. “We think that we get a pretty good percentage of the county using these at least periodically,” Price said.

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The trails are important because they add to quality of life as well as provide an alternative means of transportation. People surveyed while using county trails have said they like using them for exercise and to spend time with their families.

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Price said the next step will be to work with the cities and the county to flesh out the plan and see what makes the most sense, especially when considering the next 10 years. Work on the plan started in July and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2016.

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An online map where residents could make recommendations for the plan closed to input at the end of October, but residents can still submit their comments at the MAG website.

Avatar
Chris Bairdhttp://www.servedaily.com
Chris is a family man with a beautiful wife and four kids. Three Girls, One Boy. He enjoys playing basketball, being outdoors, and the old normal.

More from Author

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