Gov. Spencer Cox met with Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) planners at Gunnison Station last week for a presentation on Sanpete County road projects.
The presentation, led by UDOT Region Four Director Rick Torgerson, summarized plans that will safely connect the rural community to the rest of the state.
“We know this area is growing,” Torgerson said.
In the last ten years, Region Four has completed 84 projects, and dedicated just under $10 million to preserving roadways and installing safety features, he said. Though the region accounts for 14 counties in the state, the presentation focused on projects in Sanpete.
The stations, like the one in Gunnison, are primarily focused on taking care of the roads, Torgerson said. And, currently, they are working on repairing the asphalt on U.S. 89 between Manti and Gunnison, with a plan to finish by the end of the summer. The project, which “started rough,” has since become less of a traffic source due to the hard work of UDOT employees, Torgerson said.
As far as safety goes, UDOT has plans for a brake check area on S.R. 31, about nine miles up from Fairview, Torgerson said. The zone is a more affordable alternative to a runaway truck ramp, but still promotes the same kind of safety.
On S.R. 132, there are plans for passing lanes going both ways to be put in next summer.
UDOT also has some projects still in the design phase. They are working on a warning system for the county that will use sensors to alert incoming traffic about cars that are waiting to turn left in an area that does not have a turn lane. The technology will be the first of its kind in Utah.
These new warning systems are an important mode of saving lives, Cox said.
Utah is not new to innovation, though. Starting in the 1990s, the state began connecting stop lights and putting them on the same server through Intelligence Transportation Systems.
“No other state in the country does that,” UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras said.
And these connections continue, now in the form of fiber optic installation. In rural communities, it provides better internet service and fewer outages, Torgerson said.
“We’ve done a great job partnering,” he said, noting that their 33 telecom partners make up two-thirds of the funding for the work they have done.
Thousands of miles of fiber have been installed so far. The last piece of installation on I-70 was made possible with money from the CARES Act, passed under former President Donald Trump’s administration in 2020.
“It’s allowed us to expand broadband in the county and connect back to a hub,” Cox said
The expansion is especially important as some continue to find themselves navigating a work-from-home world.
“It’s a win-win all the way around,” Cox said about the projects.