Summit County staffers could resume the first phases of a decades-old plan to connect the Kamas Valley by trail in the coming weeks after community input gave new life to the seemingly abandoned project early last year.
The efforts began in the early 2000s when a trail designed to operate as a transportation link from one end of the valley to the other was created along S.R. 32. But the trail, which runs beside the high-speed, two-lane road and runs from Oakley to Marion, was never completed and ends around 2 miles before it reaches Kamas.
But after a petition started by the South Summit Trails Foundation gained nearly 2,000 signatures last year, the project’s momentum restarted.
Earlier this month, the county’s Public Works Department presented updates to the Summit County Council. Their plans include picking up where the existing trail ends, near Marion Park, and extending it about 2 1/2 miles until its intended destination — south into Kamas.
Since the current trail doesn’t have a connection, it’s likely underutilized, according to Michael Kendell, a county engineer. He said that its usage will likely increase once the county provides a link to the bus system and improves safety for users.
And because S.R. 32 has a narrow shoulder, pedestrians traveling on the adjacent trail are often close to the edge of the road. The County Council previously expressed support for funding the trail’s full construction to mitigate the safety concerns. The current plans are for an 8-foot paved trail with shoulders on both sides.
Councilor Malena Stevens said she was excited to see the project coming along after all this time to provide additional uses to residents and help connect the community. The trail was first paved between 2001 and 2002 when the Summit County government and Mountainlands Association of Governments wanted to provide a walkable pathway for East Side residents. The organizations were able to secure funds and received approval for the work but it was never completed.
Kendell anticipated it would take about two weeks for the engineering division to finish developing their plan and it could be put out to bid shortly after. The construction is estimated to cost around $1.5 million.
The county plans to pursue three different grants and utilize Transportation Sales Tax funds to help pay for the trail.
However, the county may also be responsible for ongoing maintenance and operation costs. The Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District estimated it would cost around $15,000 annually, or 15 cents per square foot, to preserve the trail. The majority of the cost is related to snow removal, but Summit County Public Works Director Derrick Radke said it’s unlikely they’d spend that much every year.
The project will likely be completed in two phases with the northern portion, from 2700 North in Marion to 1450 North, starting later this year. The second half of the route contains wetlands and work will be pushed off until 2023.
The county already completed a wetland mitigation study and must obtain permits from the Utah Department of Transportation for the project. Radke previously said he wasn’t anticipating any problems, which he affirmed when speaking to the County Council, but relocating the wetlands can be costly.
Once the bid for the work is put out, there will be an open house in Kamas for residents who are directly affected by trail construction to receive information about the county’s plans and to provide public comment.
“It’s great to finally be looking at the end of this extremely long trail project,” said Councilor Doug Clyde, who’s been a proponent of finishing the construction.
“Unless Doug vetoes this trail, it looks like you may have good marching orders,” Chris Robinson said, joking, during the meeting this month. “If we get some of these grants, that’s even better.”