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Ephraim road system can handle 20 years of growth, study says

Ephraim road system can handle 20 years of growth, study says

 

By James Tilson

 

02-28-2019

 

EPHRAIM—Engineers continued to advise the Ephraim city council of the future infrastructure needs for the city.

Tom Nisson and Joe Phillips of Sunrise Engineering were on hand to continue the presentation started earlier this month, regarding the state of Ephraim’s infrastructure compared to growth of the city 20 years into the future. They addressed the city’s transportation needs, and its parks and recreation facilities. The first report covered the city’s wastewater and public safety facilities.

Nisson discussed the city’s roads, and Sunrise’s analysis of whether Ephraim’s road system will be adequate in 20 years. Nisson explained how Sunrise took their estimate for Ephraim’s future growth, compared it to current traffic patterns, and then estimated future traffic to see if the roads would hold up to Ephraim’s estimated growth.

At the last meeting with the council, Sunrise told them Ephraim’s growth rate should be approximately 4.3 percent. At that rate, Ephraim’s population should be expected to be 17,367 in 2038. Nisson used that same number for his presentation.

Nisson then showed the council how Sunrise had counted the traffic in Ephraim in several different spots throughout town to get an estimate of traffic volume along the city’s routes. Sunrise then used standards put out by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) to determine if the traffic was “congested.”

According to UDOT, Ephraim’s traffic currently is well below their standards for “congested.” In fact, even when Sunrise estimated Ephraim’s traffic patterns for 20 years from now, Ephraim’s road system could still contain the projected traffic without becoming congested.

Councilwoman Margie Anderson noted, “The councils that put in the new road about 10 years ago got a lot of criticism, but it turns out it was a good idea.”

Councilman Richard Wheeler asked Nisson about traffic signals. “I’ve seen growth slowed down because the state has not granted traffic signals,” Wheeler said. Nisson replied traffic signals were regulated by specific UDOT rules, and any requests for new signals would have to go through them. “I think our growth will be a lot quicker than the state’s models,” said Wheeler.

Phillips then addressed the council about the city’s parks and recreation facilities. Phillips told the council Sunrise relied on standards promulgated by the National Recreation and Parks Administration (NPRA) to determine if Ephraim was providing a “level of service” (LOS) score equal to other cities of the same size in the United State. According to the NRPA, the goal score for Ephraim should be “6.”

Phillips told the council Ephraim currently had seven parks with a total of 54.21 acres. The LOS score for Ephraim’s facilities came up to “6.71.” “Ephraim’s in pretty good shape right now,” said Phillips. But in order to maintain their LOS score in twenty years, Ephraim would need an additional 66.4 acres of parkland, and another 10.5 miles of recreational trails.

Phillips warned the council recreational facilities did not come cheap. “These things are expensive.” He said parkland cost approximately $307,000 per acre, and trails cost $622,000 per mile. At those rates, Ephraim should expect to spend about $28 million for the parkland, and about $4 million for the trails. However, almost all of the capital outlay would be eligible for impact fees, and the city would not have to come up with the entire cost itself.

Now that its analysis of city infrastructure facilities is completed, Sunrise is expected to report to Ephraim next month on its analysis of impact fees on future growth, and give options for how the city could utilize fees to help pay for future infrastructure.