There have been a number of discussions at City Council meetings regarding SR 146, known locally as Canyon Road in Cedar Hills and 100 E in Pleasant Grove. The state highway is not in good condition and needs to be reconstructed and widened. We are asking UDOT and Utah County to work together to ensure SR 146 is reconstructed and maintained to protect the safety of our families on this important highway. We do not believe it is fair for the city of Cedar Hills to be responsible for the significant costs that come with owning and maintaining a state highway.
State Route 146 is a highway that serves northeast Utah County. It provides a major connection for residents of Alpine, Highland, and Cedar Hills to Pleasant Grove, Orem, and central Utah County.
Cities from Pleasant Grove southward toward Provo use SR 146 to access American Fork Canyon. This major recreational area includes Timpanogos Cave National Monument, a trailhead for Mount Timpanogos, fishing at Tibble Fork Reservoir and Silver Lake Flat Reservoir, and numerous campgrounds. It is the gateway to numerous trails for ATV riders, hikers, mountain bikers, and motorcycle riders, as well as snowmobile riding and snowshoeing in the winter. Use of the canyon for recreation is heavy, and the Forest Service expects this popularity to continue to increase.
What Needs Fixing?
SR 146 has been constructed in patchwork fashion over a long number of years. In addition, the state has not invested significant resources in maintaining the road recently. As a result, the pavement and road base is deteriorating in numerous spots, with signs of subgrade failure.
Public works departments typically try to maintain a residual service life (RSL) of more than 10 years for a roadway. If a road is built, and no maintenance done, then it is expected to last about 20 years. To increase the RSL of a road, a city, county, or state can provide periodic surface treatments to ensure it does not fall below an RSL of 10 years. Our city engineer estimates that portions of SR 146 have an RSL of 5 years or less.
Other major problems with the highway include:
- Poor Drainage. Ponding on the road can lead to hydroplaning during wet periods and ice formation in the winter. At least one Cedar Hills resident reports flooding in his home during heavy storms. The road needs storm water drainage and curb and gutter construction.
- No Turning Lanes. Currently, there are several intersections on the northern portion of the road without turning lanes, which backs up traffic during peak hours. Some drivers navigate onto the shoulder of the road to pass cars waiting to turn, causing hazards for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- No Center Turning Lane. The road lacks a center turning lane in numerous places, making difficult for cars turning onto the highway to make it safely across both lanes.
Poor Road Profile. Near Bayhill Road in Cedar Hills, the center line crown is not consistent. This means the road has dips and bumps, causing some cars to bounce as they drive southward. We have seen several accidents where cars flew off the road and into neighboring fences.
Bad Sight Distance. At some intersections, the site distance is poor. Fixing this requires lowering the highway through this section.
- No Shoulder. The road lacks a shoulder in numerous spots, making conditions dangerous for pedestrians and disabled vehicles. There are numerous bus stops along Canyon Road in Cedar Hills, and our children need a safe place to walk to and from school.
Additional safety improvements are needed long term:
Pedestrian Crossings. There are few safe pedestrian crossings across the road, particularly in the northern part of Pleasant Grove and in Cedar Hills.
Bicycle Lane. There is no bicycle lane for the road. This is the major thoroughfare leading south from Cedar Hills, and an access point for the Murdock Canal Trail, yet cyclists do not feel safe using the road.
High Speeds. Although the speed limit is 40 mph, cars regularly travel at speeds of 50 and 55 mph. The highway could use traffic calming devices such as center median strips and roundabouts to encourage lower speeds.
What is Being Done?
Based on meetings Mayor Gygi has attended, the city council has been told that UDOT considers the road a low priority and does not plan to do anything more than a basic mill and pave for the highway. This would fix the most significant problem of the road base and subgrade failures. Depending on how the resurfacing is done, this may also fix some of the issues with the road profile. However, this would not address the numerous safety issues listed above.
A related issue is that the state funded the reconstruction of North County Boulevard, which widened the road to four lanes with a center turn lane, widening the road and installing traffic signals and several intersections. There may be an agreement that in return Utah County agreed to a jurisdictional transfer, where the state would take ownership of North County Boulevard and the county would take ownership of SR 146. If the county takes ownership of the highway, they have also expressed that they will only be willing to do a mill and pave for the road, likewise not addressing the safety issues listed above.
To provide a better solution for our residents, Mayor Gygi has been working with the Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) to secure approximately $9.5 million in funding for the reconstruction and widening of the highway. This project would cover widening the road to accommodate 3 lanes with a 8 foot asphalt/gravel shoulders, from State Street to 2600 North in Pleasant Grove. From 2600 North to American Fork canyon the road would be widened to provide 2 lanes with 8 foot asphalt/gravel shoulders. Additional improvements include safety upgrades at 2600 North and 4000 North (9600 North/Harvey Blvd.) to improve sight distances and alignment. Turn lanes will be added at 2600 North and the road will be lowered at 4000 North. Finally, there will be improvements along the corridor from Cedar Hills Drive to Paige Lane to provide storm water drainage into a basin near the Murdock Canal, and numerous areas would receive curb and gutter improvements. This money is only available if the county takes ownership of the road.
As discussed above, a major question is who will take ownership of SR 146. There may be an agreement for UDOT to transfer the road to Utah County. The county has asked Cedar Hills and Pleasant Grove to take ownership of the road if the cities want anything done beyond a mill and pave.
City staff has estimated that if Cedar Hills were to own the road that we would need to spend about $80,000 per year for maintenance. One possibility that has been mentioned is for MAG to provide enough funding to cover maintenance for the first 10 years, but the city would still be required to spend this much starting in year 11. Snow plowing alone will require the city to buy a 10-wheel truck and a wide snow blade, plus build additional covered storage for this equipment. In addition, any long-term major reconstruction costs would be footed by the city.
Currently, Cedar Hills receives about $250,000 in Class C road funds, which are collected from a portion of the state gas tax.
We spend about that much on street supplies and maintenance, not counting snow plowing, street lights, signs, street sweeping, etc.
Spending an additional $80,000 per year on streets would be an increase of about 22% for our road fund, requiring a tax increase or service cuts elsewhere in our budget.
UDOT and Utah County should commit to reconstructing SR 146 properly
It is clear that UDOT has not maintained SR 146 properly, and Mayor Gygi's conversations with UDOT indicate they do not intend to make any significant improvements with the highway. UDOT has recently reconstructed SR 92 as the main access to American Fork Canyon, and invested significant resources in reconstructing and widening North County Boulevard. We appreciate these improvements, but SR 146 continues to be neglected. State highways ought to be properly constructed and maintained by the state.
If Utah County has an agreement to take ownership of SR 146, in return for the state's work on North County Boulevard, then they should take ownership of the road, reconstruct it, and maintain it properly.
Neither the state nor the county ought to neglect this highway. SR-146 is currently the primary access from Pleasant Grove, Linden, and Orem to American Fork Canyon. Visitors from Salt Lake County northward use SR 92. Visitors from south of Utah County will use I-15 and then may take SR-146 or North County Blvd. to reach the canyon. As mentioned above, American Fork Canyon is home to numerous outstanding recreation activities and a National Monument, and SR 146 serves as an important highway for this destination.
Some discussions with Utah County have indicated that the county believes Pleasant Grove and Cedar Hills should take ownership of the road if any significant safety improvements are made. However, the highway serves a much broader population than just Cedar Hills and Pleasant Grove, so the these cities should not be burdened with its cost. Utah County has a $75 million dollar road budget, compared to $363,000 for Cedar Hills and $553,000 for Pleasant Grove. The county can also ask the state for help, as they did with North County Blvd.; UDOT has a $1 billion budget.
Our petition asks UDOT and Utah County to work together to ensure SR 146 is reconstructed and widened, so that major safety issues are addressed. If the county takes ownership, it should accept the money provided by MAG and reconstruct the road as detailed in the proposal. Whoever owns the road should commit to providing proper maintenance for the road in future years and any additional safety improvements that are needed. The cities of Cedar Hills and Pleasant Grove should not be responsible for owning or maintaining a state or regional highway.