A year later, UDOT presented its Environmental Assessment for public scrutiny. The EA must address not just the environmental concerns, but also justify the need for the project and the expense.
While the old road was relatively narrow and winding, it had in most regards served the traveling public well. The EA tried to justify the project by showing that the road could not handle the traffic flow. But a traffic capacity survey showed that, in terms of traffic numbers, the road was adequate until the year 2025!
So the EA tried to prove that deer-related accidents in the project area necessitated the reconstruction. But all the documented accidents occurred on the rims, not in the canyon itself, where 80% of the project costs would be incurred. Despite all of this information, the road reconstruction began in October 2004 and was completed in 2005 at a cost of about $10 million.
A decade later, nobody even remembers the old road.
Jim Stiles is Founder and Co-Publisher of the Canyon Country Zephyr.
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