Following open houses, Cedar City and Enoch officials still seeking input on transportation plans

CEDAR CITY — The cities of Cedar City and Enoch hosted back-to-back open houses this week as part of an effort to generate more public input regarding the area’s transportation plans, including active transportation.

Project manager Thomas McMurtry of Avenue Consultants said more than 50 people attended Tuesday’s event at Cedar City’s Festival Hall, with a somewhat smaller crowd attending the one at Enoch Elementary School the following night.

At both venues, citizens were seen poring over the various maps, marking comments on them with Post-It notes and Sharpies. Also in attendance were elected officials and city staff from both communities. 

Comments and questions affixed to the maps included phrases such as “add a dedicated bike lane here,” “slow down Main Street” and “roundabout needed.”

Enoch City Manager Rob Dotson said the process is a vital one.

Cedar City Manager Paul Bittmenn and Enoch City Manager Rob Dotson discuss population growth projections during a public open house on transportation master plan, Cedar City, Utah, March 30, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Planning for the future can mitigate challenges that are otherwise missed, creating costly solutions,” he told Cedar City News. “This current cooperative planning process with Enoch City, Cedar City and Iron County will provide clarity about where transportation investments will produce the best results.”

McMurtry said public comments are still being solicited on the dedicated website that has been set up to inform the community about the ongoing transportation planning project. The site also has interactive maps that allow visitors to place pins and submit comments. 

“All the input that we’re getting last night and tonight, we’re going to go back and read all those comments and look to see if we need to adjust any of our plans going forward,” McMurtry said. “These are draft plans. We’ve been working the last six to eight months to put these together, but they’re still drafts, and we’re going to make any changes that might be necessary.”

The plans are meant to cover the community’s transportation needs for the next 30 years and beyond, McMurtry said, noting that projections indicate that the population of the Cedar City/Enoch area is expected to grow from around 42,000 currently to more than 65,000 by 2050.

Much of the new growth is expect to occur toward the west, he added, where “so many areas need new roads and new connections.”

“There are a lot of improvements that need to be made to make sure that the system is connected, and that folks are still going around, and they can maintain the same quality of life, so that they’re not stuck in traffic,” he said.

McMurtry said the transportation plan doesn’t just focus on current and future paved roads and streets; it also incorporates “active transportation” as a major component, with emphasis on bicycle and pedestrian trails.

“With active transportation, the big key is to provide facilities,” he said. “If you build it, people will come, right? So if there’s trails and bike lanes out there, people will start using them.”

The overarching goal of the area’s transportation plan, according to the dedicated website, is to seek improved connectivity, increased safety and expanded access, all while having multiple jurisdictions collaborating and listening to public input.

Public open house on transportation master plan, Enoch, Utah, March 31, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“I think we’re going to see more of that going forward – the cities working together to plan for a better connection and then the county getting involved,” McMurtry added. “I’m hoping that this plan can be the start of improved collaboration amongst our municipalities.”

McMurtry encouraged area residents to visit the website and post suggestions while the comment period is still open.

“The (interactive) maps will stay up and running for at least the next two weeks,” he said. “It might even be a little longer. Then, in about three weeks, we’ll probably close the maps, but the website will stay active for another year. Once we have a draft document, we’ll put that on the website so everybody can go and look at it. And then, there’s still going to be more opportunities to comment at public hearings, from the planning commissions to the city councils.”

The comprehensive transportation plan is expected to be finalized later this summer.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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